Verdict - unanimous finding or decision of a jury on one or more matters (as counts of an indictment or complaint) submitted to it in trial that ordinarily in civil actions is for the plaintiff or for the defendant and in criminal actions is guilty or not guilty

Judgment - 1. a formal decision or determination on a matter or case by a court; 2. declaration by a court of the conviction of a criminal defendant and the punishment to be imposed.

Tomorrow, 12 September 2007, the Sandiganbayan will promulgate its judgment on the 4.3-Billion plunder case of former President Joseph Estrada. After six years of tedious and politically distabilizing trial, we will finally hear from the Court.

Former President Estrada's plunder case is composed of four charges -- acceptance of P545 million in protection money from illegal gambling (“jueteng”), misappropriation of P130 million in tobacco excise taxes, collection of a P189.7-million commission from the sale of the shares of Belle Corp. (a real estate firm), and amassing and depositing P3,233,104,173.17 in a bank account under the name Jose Velarde. He likewise falsely declared his assets which was imperative for public officials.

Although, he refused to enter a plea as to his guilt, he repeatedly underscored his innocence in the course of trial.

For the first time in the history of the Philippines, a former president was deposed, subjected to a full course trial, and now awaits to be sentenced. For what the law deems his guilt is, we have yet to find out. Whether he will be left to be unscathed by those collegiate justices or we'll wait until this thing drag itself to the Supreme Court, we will only be counting hours. My appeal is that the scale of justice, once and for all, be tipped to where justice will be equitably served. The position of these three justices are crucial. The Sandiganbayan's decision requires a unanimous vote of all three justices. I look highly on you and I appeal: Spell the difference.

Tomorrow, we will make history. Tomorrow, the Philippines will be changed. Whether it will spark massive upheaval or Filipinos will continue on turning a cold shoulder, we cannot change the fact that our government and society is faced with a new challenge to grow as a nation.

photos courtesy of and

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