[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo prays before the start of the expanded National Security Council (NCS) meeting at Malacanang’s Aguinaldo State Dining Room Tuesday (Oct. 23). Others in photo are (from left) Press Secretary and Acting Executive Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye, former President Fidel V. Ramos, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, and Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Head Cerge Remonde. (OPS-NIB Photo)]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 2, 2007 (Office of the Press Secretary, Malacanang) (For the week ending October 28, 2007)

The judicial process has been completed, the verdict speaks for itself. With the conviction, the rule of law has been upheld and justice has been served. No one is above the law when it comes to meting out punishment, including former presidents.

However, in the interest of national unity and in consideration of Mr. Estrada’s advanced age, the six and a half years he has served under detention, and the forfeiture of assets that remains in force, President Arroyo honored the request for pardon because she believed it was in the country’s interest.

The action President Arroyo took concerning the former president was a tough choice, but the President has never shied away from making tough choices when it comes to moving the nation forward.

Arguing whether the pardon should have been granted now, or later, or not at all, serves no purpose.

Let us put this black chapter in our country’s history behind us and concentrate on what is really important, i.e., ensuring that all Filipinos benefit from the fruits of our economic progress.

It is essential for this nation to look forward. We have turned a page in Philippine history; we must now write a new chapter about a New Philippines that is focused on political stability and economic opportunity.

The focus now should be on national unity and addressing the development challenges plaguing so many Filipinos.

It is our hope that Mr. Estrada will commit himself to support that process. We would also hope that both those who support and those who oppose that decision will now turn their attention to efforts to unite the nation and putting an end to the divisive politics that make no contribution to promoting the welfare of the people of our country.

At the end of the day, the people and the nation come first and our focus must be on the road ahead, not the rocky path of the past. This case is closed; the future is open with promise and opportunity.

The President wants to assure the Philippine people, as well as our international investors and businessmen and women who are so important to our development, that the President is on an unwavering path to permanent economic stability and growth.

Nothing will stand in her way in creating more jobs, generating more investments and bringing maturity, stability and strength to the Philippine nation and economy.


I missed my column last week. About the usual time every Sunday morning when I sit down to write my weekly article, my wife, Mira, was undergoing surgery at the Makati Medical Center. She had suffered a fractured wrist Saturday evening while rehearsing with her classmates for their medical class jubilee.

Good for her, she was with a group of doctors (among them, Dr. Willie Lagdameo, Dr. Boy Doble, Dr. Dulce Gust, Dr. Mon Vertido, Dr. and Dra. Augusto Balagtas), at the time of the accident. Two classmates, Dr. Gilda Teodoro and Dr. Juliet Yap, rushed her to the Makati Medical Center emergency room which only the day the before was teeming with the injured victims of the Glorietta 2 blast.

When I arrived at the ER, she was being attended to by Makati Med Resident, Dr. Mark Castro, who told me that my wife suffered a Colles fracture. I could see that she was in terrible pain. Dr. Castro said she refused to be sedated lest she fall asleep before I got to the hospital.

The following morning, my friend and personal physician, Dr. Vince Gomez, cancelled his scheduled golf game to operate on my wife. He was assisted by anaesthesiologist Dr. Rosario Cloma. Dr. Gomez told me not to worry. The operation would take not more than 30 minutes. He said he would install an “external fixator” which would hold the broken wrist bones together. The “external fixator” (which Vince nicknamed “Cobra” because of its peculiar shape) has been developed and perfected by Filipino doctors and is now being manufactured in the Philippines and exported.

Dr. Gomez further assured me that the “Cobra” allows orthopedic patients more mobility as well as faster recovery. True enough, my wife was writing her checks shortly after her discharge.

We availed of her recovery period in the Makati Med to undergo some routine medical tests, which my wife had kept postponing. Dr. Doris Nambayan, Dr. Elizabeth Serra-Santos, Dr. Claver Ramos, Dr. Juliet Yap and Dr. Gilda Teodoro worked together to ensure that my wife was back in shape.

I would like to thank Makati Medical Center and the excellent doctors, nurses and staff who all attended to my wife. Special thanks also to Dr. Benjamin Alimurung for his assistance.

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