The Prosecution in the proceedings against Joseph Estrada for plunder before the Sandiganbayan make an appeal to History that sounds a little bit like making Erap pay for Marcos' sins. I think they must resort to this type of argument because their legal case is weak and in danger of failing right here to save everybody else higher up in the Judiciary the painful embarrassment of having to adjudicate it any further.
In this post however, I wish to present a novel reduction to absurdity (reductio ad absurdum) of the standard, politically correct, Civil Society approved justification rationalization of the Mobocracy that was Edsa Dos:
(1) A duly elected President of the Republic was impeached by the Lower House in November, 2000.
(2) Trial at the Senate, with the Supreme Court Chief Justice presiding, proceeded forthwith, in December, 2000.
(3) On January 16, 2001 a vote was taken by the Senator Judges on a matter known as the Second Envelope. Whatever the merits, if any, of that decision, it was perfectly in compliance with the Rules of the Senate Impeachment Trial. But it clearly demonstrated that indeed there was not then two thirds of the Senate likely to convict the accused. Indeed, the events of that Tuesday proved that the accused actually had more than enough votes to win acquittal. THAT was the real message of the Second Envelope Vote.
(4) Whereupon, reneging upon his sworn of Oath to prosecute the case of the accused on behalf of the House of Representatives, it appears that the Chief House Prosecutor and is entire team walked out on the Impeachment Trial, and the Presiding Judge in the subsequent days made absolutely no effort to reconvene said Trial.
(5) On 20 January 2001, as construed by the Supreme Court in March, 2001, then President Joseph Estrada voluntarily and constructively RESIGNED the Presidency, voluntarily and constructively SURRENDERED his immunity from all criminal and civil suits.
(6) Also on 20 January 2001, also as construed by the Supreme Court in March 2001, Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., (instead of reconvening the Senate Impeachment Trial as was his clear duty) then administered the Oath of Office as Acting President to then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
QUESTION: Because of the "Craven Eleven's" Second Envelope vote, by 16 January 2001, Erap was already sure of being acquitted. Why would he voluntarily resign, as the Supreme Court concluded, just four days later, and give up Presidential immunity?
Then for the next six years claim as a defense against plunder that he never resigned and was still immune from criminal suit. The Official, Politically Correct History makes less and less sense as the passage of time only shows how fully absurd it is. Occam's Razor produces the simplest possible explanation for all the facts as we know them. Erap did not voluntarily resign at Edsa Dos, but was overthrown and forced out upon threat of violence and death. The Presidency was vacated and filled by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, without whose positive and putschistic action, the Senate impeachment trial would simply have reconvened and proceeded on to ACQUITTAL.
This is not some kind of argument for a restoration of Erap to the Presidency. It isn't really even about Erap, per se, but the Justice system and our self-respect.
We are faced with a present moral dilemma:
In my own opinion it would not have been morally or poetically RIGHT that Joseph Estrada be acquitted at the Senate Impeachment Trial because I believe he was unworthy to be President and deserved to be impeached, convicted and forever banned from Public Office.
YET it would have been FAIR and in keeping with DUE PROCESS that the Trial continued, EVEN IF that meant Erap would then escape Justice, at least at that point.
As time passes, the difference between those who still support what happened at Edsa Dos and those that don't, will become more clearly the difference between what one thinks is BETTER in this case: to be RIGHT or to be FAIR.
Indeed, the question lingers over the very fate of Joseph Estrada: should we be right, or should we be fair?
(Related: The Kangaroo Court of Australia)