Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Joseph Estrada Guilty of Plunder But Acquitted of Perjury

Former President Joseph Estrada was found guilty of Plunder by a Sandiganbayan special court. He has just been sentenced to life imprisonment (reclusion perpetua). His co-accused Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Atty. Ed Serapio were acquitted of all charges. Audio recording of the reading of the disposative portion follows.


Audio of Promulgation of Verdict in Estrada Plunder Trial (MP3)

There are numerous Philippine Commentaries on Edsa Dos.

Chief Justice Panganiban Tells Seminarians The Story of Edsa Dos

Edsa Dos: The Real Coup D'etat

Davide's Chicken Comes Home To Roost

Worthy of note is this Press Release by the constitutional expert, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

In a quick reaction to the verdict former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada called the proceedings a "KANGAROO COURT".

UPDATES:

Lawyer Alan Paguia sends in a legal analysis of the case:
President Estrada was formally convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan this morning. What should the Filipino people ask themselves? The most important question would be:

DID THE SANDIGANBAYAN HAVE JURISDICTION OVER PRESIDENT ESTRADA IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The answer is NO.

Reasons:

1. Under the Constitution, a duly-elected President may be removed from office only through the process of impeachment in Congress. The anti-Estrada forces wanted him removed, so they impeached him before the House of Representatives. Then they tried him before the Senate. Then, the prosecutors walked out. They were not able to convict him. However, they were able to remove him by way of a military coup de etat led by Gen. Angelo Reyes. Was that removal constitutional? The answer is NO. Constitutional removal contemplates a CONVICTION resulting from an impeachment proceeding. President Estrada was not convicted in the impeachment proceeding. Therefore, his removal is void and inexistent from the beginning.

2. Under the Constitution, the trial of a duly-elected president must be conducted by the Senate of the Philippines. The Senate has SOLE JURISDICTION and is the EXCLUSIVE VENUE for the trial of the President. However, after the effort to remove President Estrada failed in the Senate, the trial was transferred to another venue - the Sandiganbayan. Was the transfer of venue constitutional? The answer is NO. There is no provision in the Constitution which authorizes such transfer. Up to now, the justices of the Supreme Court or the Integrated Bar of the Philippines have not pointed to any such provision.

3. On January 20, 2001, the Justices of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Davide, swore in Gloria Arroyo as president in substitution of President Estrada. What was the constitutional ground they invoked and relied upon to justify their action? The ground of PERMANENT INCAPACITY on the part of President Estrada. This was the ground invoked by Mrs. Arroyo herself in her letter to the Supreme Court justices who went to Edsa II upon such invitation. However, in the justices' decision in Estrada vs. Arroyo on March 2001, the justices invoke the ground of CONSTRUCTIVE RESIGNATION. What is the legal significance of the difference? By invoking constructive resignation, the justices necessarily repudiated the ground of permanent incapacity which they had earlier invoked. What is the legal significance of that repudiation? The justices thereby effectively ADMITTED they swore in Mrs. Arroyo upon a WRONG and INAPPLICABLE constitutional ground. Therefore, Mrs. Arroyo was sworn in upon an unconstitutional ground. Consequently, her swearing in as President was invalid from the beginning. Did her tainted electoral victory during the May 2004 Presidential Elections cure the defect? The answer is NO. Although it is difficult for lawyers, more so for non-lawyers, to accept the pain of being misled into a wrong act, the fact is, the 2004 Presidential Election was invalid for one simple reason. There can be no valid presidential election where the Constitutional term of the last elected president has not yet validly expired. Under the Constitution, whoever takes over after the removal of the President shall serve for the unexpired term. But this provision contemplates a valid and constitutional removal. Therefore, where the removal is unconstitutional, as in the case of President Estrada, the one who takes over CANNOT serve for the unexpired term. Why? The effect of an unconstitutional removal is necessarily the opposite of a constitutional removal. In other words, President Estrada's constitutional clock for six (6) years under the Rule of Law STOPPED on January 20, 2001 when he was unconstitutionally removed. It was replaced by Gloria Arroyo's UNCONSTITUTIONAL CLOCK under the Rule of Force. Consequently, any presidential election, like the 2004 presidential election, would be contrary to the Constitution itself which cannot honor an unconstitutional removal of a duly-elected president. In short, the 2004 presidential election is invalid since the constitutional term of President Estrada has not yet validly expired.

EPILOGUE

The Philippine Government continues its unchartered journey into the constitutional limbo of Gloria Arroyo's unconstitutional clock.

- ALAN F. PAGUIA




FULL TEXT OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN DECISION IS HERE.
Hat Tip: Arbet.

6 comments:

Arbet said...

Sir, decision is available here http://sandigan3.googlepages.com/index.html

Hoping you can comment on it. Maybe tear it to bits?

DJB Rizalist said...

Thanks for the Link Arbet! I put it up on the post too. Can't read it yet because the website there is swamped!

kukote said...

hi. you can download the full text of the decision on my blog post here.

Lester said...

It's interesting that even after the judiciary branch of our government has made a landmark decision against a corrupt official of the executive branch, there are still those who would insist that this should not be the case. What more do you want? I think we should all commend the justices for being fair and actually, for being brave enough to stand by their judgement.

Anyway, I posted my other personal views on this matter in my weblog. I hope you can find time to read it. I posted it on: http://lestercavestany.com/?p=14

Thanks

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