FREEDOM IS WELL-WISHERS' WISH FOR ERAP

MANILA, April 20, 2004
 
(MALAYA)
By PETER J.G. TABINGO - Well-wishers who greeted President Estrada on his 67th birthday celebration yesterday at his villa in Tanay had only one wish: That he would soon be released.

After being granted by the Sandiganbayan Special Division a 12-hour furlough to host a party at his villa, Estrada could not hide his excitement as he welcomed members of his family, friends, and Cabinet members and officials of his administration.

Among the well-wishers aside from Sen. Luisa "Loi" Estrada and her son Jinggoy were Estrada's former Transportation Secretary Vicente Rivera, PMS head Leonora de Jesus, former spokesman Jerry Barican, Edward Serapio, Estrada's personal lawyer, and Rod Reyes.

Also on hand to greet Estrada were KNP senatorial bets Didagen Dilangalen, Juan Ponce Enrile, Alfredo Lim, Aminah Rasul-Bernardo, Jamby Madrigal and KNP vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda.

Ramon "Eki" Cardenas, Estrada's former assistant executive secretary, Gen. (ret.) Cesar Abella, Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco, Marichu Maceda, producer Lily Monteverde and actor Richard Gomez were among the early birds.

Around 400 supporters crowded the entrance to the property by 2 p.m.

Fr. Sonny Ramirez officiated the mass held in a newly-constructed chapel in the 15-hectare villa.

President Arroyo gifted Estrada a double pen holder along with her wishes for good health.

Last year, Arroyo gifted Estrada with a desk organizer.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye, who also marked his 59th birthday yesterday, said "the President has always wished former president Estrada well and she wants him to recover from his ailment and the President has always wanted that President Estrada be treated very humanely."

Bunye said he was not sure if Arroyo called up Estrada to greet him.

In 2003, Arroyo called up Estrada to greet him. She also named the guest house used by Estrada during his term as the Estrada Room. (With Jocelyn Montemayor)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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