Re-electionist SenatorsAhem. Guess what the "first salvo" of the TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Unity slate is?
1. Edgardo Angara
2. Joker Arroyo
3. Ralph Recto
4. Teresa Aquino-Oreta
5. Vicente Sotto III,
6. Vicente Magsaysay
7. Carlos Jericho Petilla
8. Luis "Chavit" Singson
9. Sultan Jamalul Kiram III
10. Miguel Zubiri
11. Prospero Pichay; and
Cabinet Member (Presidential Chief of Stuff)
12. Michael Defensor
Joker Arroyo challenged the opposition to declare that they would oppose any unconstitutional means of overthrowing the government.Obviously, the stark, raving irony of Joker Arroyo, issuing such a challenge, completely escapes Joker Arroyo!
Recall that Joker Arroyo became Senator in the 2001 midterm elections six years ago. Before that, he was Congressman from Makati and also Chief Prosecutor in the Senate impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada. The passage of time only establishes with greater clarity the dereliction of duty in WALKING OUT on that impeachment trial and the mystery by which a professedly principled man could have come to that pass. It was a duty Rep. Joker Arroyo had solemnly accepted from the House of Representatives when it impeached Erap in November 2000, which Joker Arroyo abandoned for no good or just reason 16 January 2001.
The abortion of the impeachment trial was something Joker Arroyo started by his walkout, but several other high government officials were equally, if not more guilty of shirking their sworn duties and grossly violating their oaths of office in the events that would collectively be called the Dos People Power, a coup d'etat on the Constitution, carried out by then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. who was then the Presiding Judge of the senate impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada. That was the last unconstitutional overthrow of the Philippine Government in living memory, though Joker Arroyo oblivious to it.
Although the eleven pro-Estrada senator-judges got to be called the Craven Eleven by the eventually successful coup plotters of Edsa Dos, subsequent events were to reveal certain embarrassing truths. First, the contents of the contested "Second Envelope" which the "Craven Eleven" had voted to exclude from the trial as immaterial and irrelevant to the charges brought against the President, turned out to be a letter from a private person, a Mr. Jaime Dichaves who claimed to own the Jose Velarde accounts, and therefore possibly favorable to the accused. In reality, the matter which caused the eleven pro-Estrada senators to move against the "Second Envelope" was the "First Envelope" and the testimony of Ms. Clarissa Ocampo, which Joker Arroyo had extracted from her just before the Christmas 2000 break in the trial. There was a continuing objection to that evidence and testimony from Defense Atty. Estelito Mendoza and the Court was awaiting Presiding Judge Hilario Davide's ruling on it. But for some mysterious reason, by 16 January 2001, nearly three weeks since Ms. Ocampo's appearance at the senate trial, Davide had not ruled on its admissibility. Why he tarried is not known to me, though many speculations abound. However, contrary to popular myth, the "Craven Eleven" did nothing illegal or against the Senate trial rules. It was well within their powers to call a vote on ANY question, without Davide's approval or say so.
When Joker Arroyo WALKED OUT on the Impeachment Trial that patently a dereliction of sworn duty. No one has ever successfully defended the legal and moral basis of Joker Arroyo's action to me, other than that it led to the overthrow of Erap and the installation of GMA. Yet, the walkout was in no way spontaneous, but apparently the act of the House Prosecution team led by Joker Arroyo.
Why Hilario Davide did not immediately reconvene the trial is not at all clear. The massive demonstrations by anti-Erap partisans at a religious shrine along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), including the mutiny and defection of AFP Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes, did not hinder the Senate Court from conducting sessions since they were admittedly peaceful and orderly for the most part. Certainly no one died or was seriously injured as a result of the events of 16 - 20 January 2001 in Manila. There was no general state of lawlessness or public disorder throughout the country obtained at any time. At not until, for some deeply inscrutable and yet unjustified reason, the person of Hilario G. Davide Jr. inexplicably appeared before the crowd at the Edsa Shrine, in the mighty robes of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but bereft of any legal, moral, judicial or official justification for his presence there!
Par for the course, That three pro-Estrada principals of those events--Edgardo Angara, Tessie Aquino-Oreta and Tito Sotto--are now running mates of Joker Arroyo and Ralph Recto on "Team Unity," should produce endless continuing amusement in the justaposition and intermingling.