Sunday, January 15, 2006

Remembering the EDSA 2 People Power Coup

On Saturday morning, 20 January 2001, at precisely 11:26 a.m., the following fax transmission arrived at the Philippine Supreme Court from the Office of the Vice President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, addressed to the Supreme Court attention the Chief Justice, Hilario G. Davide, Jr.
20 January 2001
Supreme Court Building
Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila

Attention: Honorable Hilario G. Davide, Jr.
Chief Justice

Your Honors:

The undersigned respectfully informs the Honorable Court that Joseph Ejercito Estrada, is permanently incapable of performing the duties of his office resulting in his permanent disability to govern and serve his unexpired term. Almost all of his Cabinet members have resigned and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have withdrawn their support for Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Civil Society has likewise refused to recognize him as President.

In view of this, I am assuming the position of President of the Republic of the Philippines. Accordingly, I would like to take my oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines before the Honorable Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., today, 20 January 2001, at 12:00 noon, at the EDSA Shrine, Quezon City, Metro Manila.

May I have the honor to invite all the members of the Honorable Court to attend the oath-taking.

NOTE: Above is an exact reproduction of the actual fax document that is part of the Supreme Court's record, together with a JPG of the signature that accompanied it when it was first transmitted to the High Court, also recorded in the compleat news journalism of Amando Doronila in his definitive record, The Fall of Joseph Estrada. However the above document and signature were taken from the Congressional Impeachment Complaint against Chief Justice Davide in 2003. Of course that impeachment attempt failed on the steps of the High Court!

HISTORY records that in what was either a miraculous act of God, or a judicial coup d'etat, the Supreme Court declared the Presidency of the Republic VACANT on that very morning, by virtue of Joseph Estrada's permanent disability as claimed in the fax. History also records that in less than ONE HOUR, the Vice President was sworn in as President. Just like that! Every Filipino should see this. It's Civics 101 for the 21st Century and the cheating heart of Edsa II. What really should've happened, is a polite fax back from the Supreme Court to the O.V.P. saying, "Thank you for your fax M'am, the Honorable Court wishes to study it for a couple of days or months and per the Constitution get corroboration of your claim, before we accept your invitation to make you President!" That did not happen because what did happen had been pre-arranged among Chief Justice Davide, Vice President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Jaime Cardinal Sin and Gen. Angelo Reyes. But it is a long story that is being told here at Philippine Commentary, not necessarily for the present day, but for the far greater audience of the future. Related are these posts:

When Last the Military Withdrew Support
The Paradox of People Power
Chief Justice Panganiban in His Own Words
Davide Retires -- Good Riddance!

SANDS OF A JUDICIAL COUP D'ETAT: The main reason for the CHRONIC INSTABIITY of the Arroyo government is that it was built on the sands of a JUDICIAL COUP D'ETAT. Edsa 2 was no "People Power Revolution" though there was great unrest and anti-government feeling then against the plunderer-blunderer, Joseph Estrada. Just as there is an even greater anti-government feeling now against the incumbent. But in the High Court sits her and Davide's consiglieri--the best insurance any autocrat and judicial putschist could possibly want. To wiggle out of the ABSURDITY of what they had done, Davide and Panganiban had to establish two new principles:

(1) Permanent Disability can be reversed by judicial fiat.
(2) Voluntariness is not essential to a presidential resignation.

But any miraculous logical somersault is possible within the radical form of judicial activism practiced by the Davide-Panganiban Court. For they accomplished both tasks above in the historic Supreme Court Decisions Estrada vs. Arroyo ( March 2, 2001) and Estrada vs. Desierto (April 3, 2001) The Davide Court was forced by its own recklessness on 20 January 2001 to do number (1) above because as it turned out, countries like the U.S. which recognized the Arroyo government quickly enough, did so because they thought President Estrada had resigned. Indeed the U.S. State Dept communique said as much. Number (2) was absolutely necessary because to this very day, the tragicomic figure of Joseph Estrada, under arrest for plunder but unconvicted after five years, maintains he did not resign. He is obviously not permanently disabled for Constitutional purposes, though I would not recommend him as a moral example to anyone either. The sad truth is, I personally believe Estrada was guilty as charged. But the ends do not justify the means, two wrongs don't make a right, GMA and Davide were derelict in their own duties, and that is why there is chaos in the Democratic Philippines that has been judged as only "partly free" among the nations of the world. Because they broke the Social Contract, so there can be no peace until it is restored. Somehow.

FOR THE FUTURE: All this month, Philippine Commentary engages in a retrospective on those events, so the future generations will know the true story.

Go my love!
Catch the Google bus.
Ride into the Future's memory.
Lie in wait and wait to speak,
Speak against what lives on
after the evil that men do,
in the name of the good.


Amadeo said...


Please elaborate on this statement:

"Permanent Disability can be reversed by ju(d)icial fiat"

Did you mean maybe that what permanent disability is can be defined or re-defined by judicial fiat paving the way for the proclamation?



You are the conscience of the nation and the Filipino people...

Thank you again for this document.

Your writings are not only records from which we to draw our decisions today in order set things right tomorrow but also documents for future generations of Filipinosv to inspire them to think and re-think, learn and re-learn all about democracy and about what is moral and what is not.

With my appreciation and gratitude...


Rizalist said...

Thanks A.!
Amadeo, I was being ironic I suppose, since naturally NOTHING should be able to reverse "permanent disability" except for God. In this case, we must remember that on that very Saturday morning, they declared the Presidency VACANT by way of permanent disability, thus allowing the oath taking. But it was clearly something that would never stand the light of ... well of Erap walking around NOT disabled at all, but just drunk and stupid as usual. So what do? Well, "they reversed by fiat" the "finding of fact" they presumably made on 20 Jan 2001. But they had to do that retroactively in Estrada vs. Arroyo. They had to "invent" the second principle that "resignation does not have to be voluntary" because they had not cited RESIGNATION as the reason for swearing in Gloria.