JOYOUS over the ruling of a Comelec division that he's not disqualified from running for president, Joseph "Erap" Estrada reportedly said, "I want to be king again...and recover my throne that was stolen from me."

That outburst should tell us more than what a Comelec division's rebuff of the complaints against Erap conveys.

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The legal issue is far from settled at Comelec and litigation at the Supreme Court looms. But his talk about being king again and getting back his throne betrays the kind of man the nation elected in 1998 and threw out by "people power" in 2001.

That was how Erap regarded public office (a throne) and the presidency (being king): a warped concept that explained the plunder that led to his expulsion, a heinous crime later proven "beyond reasonable doubt" before Sandiganbayan.

Not a detergent

He and campaign handlers have depicted the pardon granted by President Arroyo as if it were a powerful detergent that made one's fabric of character magically white and clean again.

The pardon might have wiped out penalties and restored full rights (a question still in the realm of debate) but the fact, undiminished by executive cleansing, is this: Erap was charged with and proven guilty of plunder.

And he wants to be president again. According to civil society groups, the "wais" voter must ask this in electing leaders: "Who cheated, keep more than one wife, stole money?" On that standard alone, Erap flunks miserably.

A good president doesn't view his Malacañang office as his throne and himself as king. Sadly, Erap did and still does.