As I write this, Jose Velarde, err, Joseph Estrada and friends are partying at the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center. Erap turns 65 tomorrow. Senator Loi Ejercito, his one and only, was shown on TV news today distributing food packages to an urban poor community. For the deposed president’s camp, the estimated 2,000 loyalists who queued for free food just prove that the masses are still for Erap.

In a press release, Estrada said the people’s support for him encourages him further to fight the Macapagal-Arroyo government’s “persecution” and “vilification campaign” against him. He confidently said that “at the date annointed by God,” he will be vindicated.

Gamitin ba ang pangalan ng Diyos.

Last year, respected nationalist and then senatorial candidate Wigberto Ta?ada greeted Erap on his 64th birthday but adviced him to “face the music.” His advice for Erap is still timely. Here’s the news release issued by Ta?ada’s office on April 20 last year:

Senatorial candidate Wigberto “Bobby” Ta?ada of the People Power Coalition (PPC) greeted former president Joseph Estrada with a “Happy birthday!” on April 19, but said his former Senate buddy would have to face the music in the cases filed by the Ombudsman.

In an interview over radio station DZRH, Ta?ada stressed that it is important for people to realize that no one, not even a former president, is above the law. “No one must be spared from the full force of the law, if found guilty of wrongdoing,” Ta?ada said.

Ta?ada and Estrada fought on the same side in the Senate vote for the removal of United States military bases, but Ta?ada was also the lead prosecutor for the plunder charges in the impeachment case against Estrada. “Walang kumpa-kumpare at kai-kaibigan kung paglilingkod sa bayan ang pinag-uusapan (There are no buddies and friends when service to the people is at stake),” Ta?ada has been quoted as saying, taking off on a slogan popularized by Estrada.