LAOAG, Ilocos Norte -- Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Thursday said that whoever is elected as president in the May 10 elections should work to restore the spirit of Edsa and the country’s democracy.

Estrada issued the statement as the nation is celebrating the 24th year of the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

“Naging biro ang demokrasya nung nakaraang siyam na taon. Kailangang ibalik ng susunod na pangulo ang dangal ng Edsa. The challenge, therefore, for the next president is to show that while we cherish our freedom, we are also a country that commits itself to the rule of law,” Estrada said.

The former President and his running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, and the senatorial candidates of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) were embarking on a campaign sortie in this city.

Aside from Binay, also accompanying the sortie are Estrada’s wife, Dra. Loi Ejercito and senator re-electionist son, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.

Erap is the standard bearer of the PMP in the upcoming elections.

According to him, the next president should restore the people’s faith in the Constitution and the other democratic institutions adding that it was repeatedly trampled by the present administration to the point that the country’s democracy has become a joke to the worldwide community.

“The world stood in awe of Filipinos in 1986 because of the courage that our people showed as we rebelled against authoritarian rule and fought for democracy. However, Philippine democracy became a joke come 2001 when a mockery was made of Edsa with the message that a duly elected leader could easily be kicked out if found unacceptable to the ruling class.”

Erap enumerated the constitutional circumventions that the present administration committed or attempted to commit to fulfill its objectives.

He cited the Supreme Court (SC) invention of the concept of "constructive resignation" to legitimize President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo's unconstitutional assumption of the presidency, the abuse of the power of executive privilege exhibited especially during the NBN-ZTE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings that trampled on the people's right to information, and the attempt to give the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) jurisdiction over parts of Mindanao and the Visayas through a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancentral Domain that violated the Constitution.

For her part, Estrada’s spokesperson Margaux Salcedo said the peaceful Edsa uprising in 1986 has placed the country in a unique and honored position to be the leading advocate of democracy in the region and that the next president should spearhead the campaign to make it fully work.

“The People Power Revolution placed our country in a unique and honored position to be the leading advocate of democracy in Asia. This President Estrada believes that the Philippines must regain this honored reputation in the world community by showing that we have the capacity to respect the rule of law as much as the capacity to enjoy our freedom,” Salcedo added.

Ilocano vote

Estrada meanwhile expressed confidence he will get the Ilocano vote because of his loyalty to the Marcoses who still retained influence in the region.

“Alam naman ng mga Ilokano na isa ako sa mga loyalista ni President Marcos. Alam naman ninyo na ako ay isang matapat na kaibigan,” Estrada said upon arrival in this city as part of his campaign sortie.

Estrada said Ilocanos also know how much he care for the former chief executive even after the latter was ousted in the 1986 Edsa People Power revolution.

“Tapos naging senador ako, pinaggbabawalan ako ng mga kapwa senador ko na pumunta nung magkasakit si Presidente Marcos na pumunta sa Honolulu sa Hawaii, pumunta pa rin ako binista ko ang ating President Marcos. Nung dumating sya dito sa pilipinas, sumalubong pa rin ako dito kaya palagay ko alam lahat ng ating mga kababayang Ilocano na akoy isang matapat na kaibigan.”

His confidence in getting the Ilocano vote, he explained, is due to the fact that he won landslide in the province when he run in the 1998 presidential election. He added that he wants to do the same in the upcoming elections.

According to the official canvass of the 1998 elections, Estrada got 70 percent or about 146,983 votes of the 210,811 votes in Ilocos Norte followed by Jose de Venecia III who got only 39,011 votes.

Both Marcos and Estrada were ousted through popular street uprisings, the latter by the Edsa Dos in 2001.

Estrada was charged and convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder charges in 2007 and was pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a month after his conviction.

The motorcade of Estrada’s campaign sortie passed by the municipality of Batac where the embalmed body of the late dictator is being kept pending his pending burial. His family wants him buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City though various sectors of society are opposed to the proposal.

Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III earlier said he would not allow Marcos’s internment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani while his closest rival, Senator Manuel Villar, is open to the idea.

Aquino’s father, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was the main critic of Marcos autocratic rule in the country while Marcos’s only son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, is running for senator under the Nacionalista Party (NP).

The Marcos family has retained influence in the province with several members of the family running for elective post in this year’s polls.

Marcos’s daughter, Imee, is running for governor of the province against her cousin, Michael Marcos Keon, while her mother former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos is seeking the congressional post of the province’s second District. (AH/Sunnex)