Erap feels for friend Anwar

17 July 2008

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ABS-CBN Manila – Former president Joseph Estrada has expressed sympathies over the arrest Wednesday of his friend, former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, on sodomy charges.

“Like Anwar, former President Estrada was put in prison for charges that were unjustified and untrue in order to execute a power grab in 2001,” Estrada spokeswoman Margaux Salcedo said.

Salcedo said that according to Estrada, Anwar’s arrest was “politically-motivated” in light of the former Malaysian minister’s announcement of a political comeback this September.

“It appears that today’s arrest of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was politically motivated. This appears to be a repeat of what they did in 1998 when they jailed Anwar for sodomy at the height of the protests against then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and released him six years later because he was not guilty,” Salcedo said.

The former president, Salcedo said, feels how it is like to be unjustly accused. Estrada was found guilty of plunder in September 2007 following ouster six years earlier. He was eventually pardoned by President Arroyo a month after the guilty verdict.

As for Anwar, Estrada said that Philippines and the world is following the developments in Malaysia.

He also said that he hopes that democracy would find its way to the Malaysian masses, much like his desire for the Philippines.

“As is our hope for the Philippines, we pray that real democracy will find its way to the Malaysian masses, a democracy where the tools of justice are not used for purely political ends,” Salcedo said.

When Anwar visited the Philippines last month, the former president hailed him as an “icon of democracy”. Like Estrada, his friend Anwar is an opposition leader in his home country.

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