Estrada v.

Desierto Facts:  This is a petition to question the legitimacy of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s assumption of the presidency of the Philippines, filed by her immediate predecessor Joseph Estrada.

What actually happened: o May 11, 1998: Estrada wins the presidency with an overwhelming lead. Arroyo is elected as Vice-President. o October 4, 2000: Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson starts publicly accusing Estrada and his family of receiving jueteng payoffs. o October 5, 2000: Echoes of Singson’s accusations resound in both the Senate and House of Representatives, mainly through opposition members / members of the Minority. o October 11-November, 2000: Several advisers resign, including Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Arroyo. Estrada’s allies in the Majority defect to the other camp. Past presidents and Archbishop Cardinal Sin call for Estrada’s resignation. o November 13, 2000: House Speaker Manuel Villar transmits the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. o November 20, 2000: the Impeachment Process formally starts, with 21 Senators as judges, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. presiding. o December 7, 2000-January 11, 2001: the Impeachment trial proper. Presentation of evidence. On January 11, 11 senators vote against the opening of “the second envelope,” which allegedly contains evidence to prove that Estrada indeed kept a secret bank account worth 3.3 billion pesos under the name “Jose Velarde.” These 11 outnumbered the 10 senators who wanted to have the envelope opened. o January 17, 2001: Public prosecutors resign, and the impeachment proceedings, postponed indefinitely. o January 18, 2001: Hundreds of people march to EDSA in a mass movement calling for Estrada’s resignation (dubbed the “EDSA II Movement”). o January 19, 2001: the Military withdraws support from Estrada, and more members of the Executive branch resign. Estrada agrees to holding a snap election for President “where he would not be a candidate.” o January 20, 2001: Estrada’s and Arroyo’s advisers start negotiations on a “peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” only to be cut short by Arroyo’s oathtaking as the 14th President of the Philippines. That same day, Estrada and his family leave Malacañang. Estrada releases a statement which said that he was leaving Malacañang “for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation.” He also sends a letter to both chambers of Congress saying that he “[is] unable to exercise the powers and duties of [his] office.” o January 22, 2001: Congress issues a Resolution recognizing and expressing support for the Arroyo presidency. Other countries expressed the same. o February 6, 2001: Sen. Teofisto Guingona is nominated by Arroyo to be her Vice-President

o February 7, 2001: Senate passed Resolution No. 83 terminating the Impeachment Court. What the parties to this case did: o February 5, 2001: Estrada files a petition for prohibition with a prayer for a writ or preliminary injunction to enjoin Ombudsman Desierto from continuing the probe on the criminal cases filed against him (OMB Case No. 0-00-1629, 1754-1758), supposedly until his term as President is over. o February 6, 2001: Estrada files another petition, this time a quo warranto petition, against Arroyo. He wanted to be confirmed as the “lawful and incumbent President of the Republic of the Philippines” and Arroyo only as temporary / acting president until he is able to resume his duties. o February 24, 2001: Respondents file their replies to Estrada’s consolidated petitions. 1. Petitioner’s Arguments: • He has not resigned as President yet, and so Arroyo’s presidency was void since the position was not vacant at the time she was sworn in. • He is only temporarily unable to fulfill his duties as President, and that he is merely on leave. • Given the above arguments, Estrada is still President, especially since he was never impeached, and he thus enjoys Presidential Immunity from all kinds of suit. • The Ombudsman has to stop the investigation since he had already developed a bias against him (Estrada) from the “barrage of prejudicial publicity on his guilt.” 2. Respondents’ Argument: • The cases pose a political question (“ ‘the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration’ ”) and are therefore out of the Court’s jurisdiction, especially since Arroyo became president through people power, and has already been recognized as such by other governments. They compare the present case with Aquino’s “revolutionary government” (Lawyers League for a Better Philippines v. Aquino). Issue: Whether or not Estrada is merely a President on leave, which makes Arroyo just an Acting President. (Whether Estrada resigned from his position) Held: Estrada resigned from his position. There are two elements that must be present to consider someone to have resigned: first, the intent to resign, and second, the act/s of relinquishment. Both elements were evident in Estrada’s actuations before he left Malacañang, and so he must be considered to have resigned. o Using the Totality Test (i.e., the totality of prior, contemporaneous and posterior facts and circumstantial evidence bearing material relevance on the issue), the Court found that Estrada’s acts to be tantamount to his resignation.

o For intent: the Court mainly used Angara’s Diary, “Final Days of Joseph Ejercito Estrada,” in order to intuit Estrada’s intent. The Diary, which was published in a major publication, described Estrada’s acts following the massive withdrawal of support by former Estrada allies. Here, Estrada is quoted to have proposed a snap election of which he would not be a part. He was also shown to have conceded to the idea that he had to resign. o For acts of relinquishment: the Court enumerated five. a. Estrada acknowledged Arroyo’s oath-taking as President of the Republic. b. He said he was leaving the seat of presidency for the sake of peace but did not say that he would return or that he was leaving only temporarily. He did not specify what kind of inability it was that prevented him from discharging his presidential duties at that time. c. He thanked the people for the opportunity to serve them. The Court took this as a “past opportunity.” d. He also said he was ready for any future challenge, and the Court took to mean “a future challenge after occupying the [presidency].” e. He called on his supporters to join efforts at reconciliation and solidarity. The Court said that these would not be possible if Estrada refuses to give up the presidency. o Estrada also argues that he could not have resigned as a matter of law, since Section 12 of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019) prohibits the resignation or retirement of any public officer pending a criminal or administrative investigation for any case filed against him under RA 3019 or the Revised Penal Code’s provisions on bribery. The Court interpreted this provision according to the intent of the lawmakers, and that is that the provision was included supposedly to “prevent the act of resignation or retirement from being used … as a protective shield to stop the investigation of a pending criminal or administrative case against him and to prevent his prosecution under [RA 3019]…” Estrada therefore cannot invoke this provision to violate the very practice it was supposed to prevent.