"PDI: "While the second epiphany of people power was not a revolution but a limited and direct democratic action, it is now understood by many to have been devoured at the table of history—that is to say, de-legitimated..."But what exactly IS direct democracy if not a direct anti-thesis of representative democracy and deserving of delegitimation? I think TIME Magazine called it MOB RULE.
CONSPIRACY THEORY Veteran reporter Anthony Spaeth called it a conspiracy--
Anthony Spaeth (TIME Magazine, Jan. 29, 2001) : The more disturbing, albeit most plausible, theory of what transpired involves a conspiracy. As a macho former movie star, Estrada was held in contempt by Manila's business aristocracy. Mrs. Aquino is from landed gentry. Cardinal Sin has an understandable aversion to a President who boasts of mistresses and illegitimate offspring. In the mid-'80s, the Elite and the Church banded together to help organize Manila's masses against Marcos, a moment of triumph they have never forgotten. The fact that a high percentage of Filipinos loved Estrada was exasperating. Even more inconvenient was his grip on the Senate, which seemed to ensure that he would stay in power. The solution: to bring hundreds of thousands of Filipinos onto Manila's streets. But the Philippine polity is 77 million-strong. Was this a revolution of the Filipino people—or of a few hundred thousand Filipinos prompted by a few hundred powerful individuals?DAVIDE'S DERELICTION OF DUTY On 20 January 2001, it all boiled down to less than half a dozen powerful individuals, most of whom are in this famous snapshot of the moment when Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. transformed the Social Contract called the Constitution into a jumble of Biblical fiddlesticks to be arranged and constructed at will "for the common good." Davide's ultimate treachery lies in his establishment of a Constitutional tradition that is rooted in the end justifying the means, a guarantee of results that Justice will always produce a good and moral outcome in every case, even if the justices have to resort to unfair and unjust process! Thus, Davide was willing to ignore the FACT that Joseph Estrada was on impeachment trial at the Senate, in which he was a non-voting Presiding Judge.
But I hope it has become crystal clear that Davide at the Edsa Shrine on that fine Saturday morning seven years ago, had absolutely no legal, moral or juridical business being there whatsoever! In fact, since the massive demonstration ongoing at that location was clearly and indubitably a PARISAN POLITICAL ACTIVITY calling for the resignation and ouster of the incumbent and democratically elected President, Davide's mere presence could be construed as a culpabable violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct which explicitly prohibits such activity by cold, impartial and neutral judges. His clear duty was to reconvene proceed with the Senate Impeachment Trial of Joseph Estrada, starting from the Tuesday previous (January 16) when the Prosecutor Joker Arroyo abandoned his own oath to prosecute Joseph Estrada in the name of the People and their House of Representatives. But Davide did not do that. Instead he did indeed conspire with others to overthrow the President, frustrate and abort the Constitutional process of impeachment, declared Erap "permanently incapacitated just before noon", and against the remonstrations of Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma, proceeded to the Edsa Shrine to swear in Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
For years PDI described Edsa Dos as a "a military backed popular uprising that overthrew a corrupt President." But now that that "corrupt President" has regained not only his liberty but his civil and political rights, and indubitably enjoys the trust and confidence of the overwhelming majority of the masses, there is a touch of real modesty, if not complete candor in downgrading Edsa Dos from People Power Revolution to Military Backed Popular Uprising to Limited and Direct Democratic Action.
Maybe next year they will finally get it right: Edsa Dos was Davide's monumental dereliction of duty--his insane demolition of wall of separation between the Supreme Court and the Congress in the matter of Accountability of Public Officers (Article XI, 1987 Constitution).
The Regime Change that occurred at Edsa Dos was highly anomalous because it was brought about by the direct self-preventable actions of the Chief Justice and subsequent decisions of the Supreme in what was a clear CASE of IMPEACHMENT.
The inexplicable and sudden swearing in of the Vice President by Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. came, as far we know, upon his own personal initiative and immoral dereliction of duty, in concert with its beneficiary, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; with Jaime Cardinal Sin, and most with Pres. Cory Aquino who later confirmed these facts publicly. A later Chief Justice, Artemio V. Panganiban claimed in 2002, in a speech to seminarians, that the idea to swear in GMA in order to force Erap out of office, came from him.
THE SECOND ENVELOPE: The massive demonstrations at the Edsa Shrine which marked Edsa Dos were touched off on Tuesday night, 16 January 2001, after the Senate impeachment court voted 11 to 10 to exclude as evidence, something called the Second Envelope.
When pro-Estrada senators engineered to block the use of potentially incriminating evidence at the impeachment trial, public outrage exploded.What was in the Second Envelope? The Senate later opened it to discover that it contained a letter from a Mr. Jaime Dichavez claiming ownership of the Jose Velarde accounts and an offer to prove the same. It was evidence, in other words, that was helpful to Erap's Defense.
Speaking of which, Edsa Dos Die Hards never tire of distorting this aspect of that historic trial, but they never make mention of the fact Joseph Estrada never got his day in impeachment court because the Prosecutor Joker Arroyo walked out and First Gent-to-be Mike Arroyo swung into action.
The trial was aborted by Davide before the Defense could begin. He made it moot and academic by swearing in the Vice President
Was that FAIR??
Manuel L. Quezon III, seems to think it might not have been fair but it was GOOD because it prevented violence from marring the hitherto perfect record of Edsa People Power as an ideology of revolution through peaceful if forceful means. But he makes the most curious equivalence between Marcos and Joseph Estrada (which I found unbelievable), perhaps to strengthen a Constitutionally weak argument:
No one has seriously tackled what condition Joseph Ejercito Estrada was in, during the crucial days and hours his government lost the momentum and crumbled. Looking back, it happened quickly. Prior to the point Angelo Reyes convinced the military’s top brass to, as he put it, engage in mutiny, the advantage, in terms of legitimacy and brute force, lay with Estrada. Even when the defections began to gather pace, he knew, somehow, that his greatest ally was time. Up to the morning of the day he fell from power, it seemed quite possible he could counter-attack by summoning reinforcements from the provinces.Being the dipsomaniac that he was, there is no high level mystery as to the "condition of Joseph Estrada" in his last hours at the Palace, and the published diary of Ed Angara gives further hints. But I think MLQ3 misses the obvious point that Angara must have been assuring him that the Senate would restart the Impeachment Trial, proceed to a verdict of certain acquittal, and that would be the end of it after a few more days of noisy demonstrations at the Edsa Shrine. Trying to make Erap seem capable of "counter attack" with "reinforcements from the provinces" I find singularly unconvincing and a bit of a stretcher on MLQ's part. Erap was never a fascistic or authoritarian president.
What Erap did not count on was that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Hilario G. Davide would usurp the sole and exclusive powers of the Congress to initiate all cases of impeachment, and to fairly try and remove from office or acquit such high Constitutional officers as the president. It is a little known fact that the verdict in a Senate impeachment trial can NOT be appealed to the Supreme Court, which has zero jurisdiction in all cases of impeachment.
Less than four days after it had become crystal clear that Joseph Estrada had eleven Senators ready to acquit him at the Senate Impeachment Trial, the Supreme Court wants History to believe that he validly RESIGNED the presidency, without anyone actually knowing about it for two months, not even Erap!
I believe the vast audience of History won't be fooled. Joseph Estrada was illegally removed from Office by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the most stunning malfeasance of Constitutionalism imaginable.
Davide nullified the Senator Judges verdict even before they could render it, even before Erap could mount his defense in Court.
In retrospect, perhaps Rene Saguisag made a mistake in suing Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after Edsa Dos, since she was just the recipient of Stolen Goods. The true thief of constitutionalism and electoral democracy at Edsa Dos was Hilario G. Davide. Jr., the Chief Injustice of that entire sorry episode.
On a lighter heavy note, columnist Randy David gets days and dates wrong in Forgetting Edsa II
Ms Arroyo has shown us the limits of people power. We now know that as a moral force, people power will not succeed in shaming an amoral president out of office. We also now know that as a political force, people power cannot topple down a president without the consent or collaboration of the military. This realization, more than anything else, has diminished our people’s enthusiasm for mass protests. I think that what we should realize is not the futility of people power, but rather its eventual impotence if it remains unorganized and naively dependent on spontaneous sparks of moral outrage.But Eggie Apostol has done a marvelous job of organizing People Power having converted it to the boosting of the educational system. I'm sure Randy gets invited to all the soirees and tea parties.