The Villar Blitz
When Chavit talked to media on October 3, 2000 after what he believed to be an attempt on his life, he stirred up a hornet’s nest following his threat to expose Erap’s anomalies.
The political opposition, like a pack of K-9s, was quick to sniff a ticking bomb in Chavit’s teaser. Members of Lakas-Kampi, whose standard bearer Erap thrashed in the last election but whose coalition partner, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), won as vice presi-dent and therefore the legal successor to the presidency in the event Erap was booted out, lost no time to generate some noise.
Then Senator Teofisto “Tito” Guingona, Jr., after he conferred with Chavit, delivered a privilege speech on the Senate floor on October 5, 2000. Excerpts:
“I accuse Joseph Ejercito Estrada, President of the Republic of the Philippines, for violating his own oath of office to enforce the law, of violating the strict mandate of the Constitution against conflict of interest because he prejudiced public interest by purportedly releasing public funds for a public purpose when the real intent was to siphon off a substantial portion for personal ends, of violating the prohibition in the Constitution against participation in business during his tenure as President. When he made arrangements to get money from jueteng collections, the same was not only illegal participation in an illegal business, it was also an enforced extraction in exchange for illegal protection accorded jueteng operators.”
And with that, Chavit and Tito had not only generated noise, they also fueled some excitement among the partisan crowd. Some sectors called for Erap’s resignation right away. Others asked for a congressional investigation, which the Blue Ribbon Com-mittee of the Senate promptly did. Still others mulled the idea of impeaching the president.
But, yet again, not so fast.
Congressman Joker Arroyo, allied with the political opposition then, was quoted as saying “the impeachment proceedings against the President cannot prosper on the basis only of a speech.”
The gynes and the drones of the hornets quickly regrouped.
Erap’s political allies sprang to action. On October 8, 2000, or a day before Chavit held his press conference along with the start of the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Commit-tee hearing as an offshoot of Tito Guingona’s speech, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), one of the three groups constituting the then ruling Lapian ng Masang Pilipino (LAMP), published a declaration of support to the President. Party leaders—namely Arnulfo Fuentebella, President, Faustino S. Dy Jr., Secretary General, Luis “Baby” Asistio, Vice Chairman of the Commission on Appointments (CA); Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Edgardo R. Lara, Anthony Dequina, and Leandro Jesus Madrona signed the manifesto.
Against a whirl of Erap-bashing backdrop, including the one where Laquian quipped that he was the only sober person at 4 A.M. in Malacañang, the NPC declared, among other things, that:
“We shall do our utmost to resist any and all attempts to undermine the President’s leadership, thus we say: Sobriety must be the call of the hour.
“We must be sober in all our actuations particularly at this time when the country is facing a deepening economic crisis; when the Filipinos are still beset by problems on peace and order; when the underprivileged sector of our community yearn for the most basic government services; when the pace of development requires a strong momentum; and when people must rally behind the national leaders.”
Erap supporter and Chair of beer and gin giant San Miguel Corporation Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco formed the NPC in the ‘90s propel what turned out to be a failed presidential bid in 1992.
Aside from the NPC, the LAMP coalition also comprised the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), headed by then Agriculture Secretary Eduardo J. Angara, and the PMP (Erap’s party).
On the impending Senate investigation by Nene Pimentel’s Blue Ribbon Committee, “Senate President Pro Tempore Blas F. Ople reminded Guingona that he faces stiff sanctions by the Senate if he cannot prove his charges against the Chief Executive,” according to a Manila Bulletin report.
But in spite of Erap’s drones, there was just no stopping people’s reactions to Chavit’s revelations. As witnesses at the Senate committee that heard the allegations ex-posed even more Erap’s blameworthy con-duct, the ranks calling of his resignation or impeachment swelled.
Erap, however, denied the accusations against him. “I did not receive a single centavo from illegal gambling or tobacco tax,” he said. He also complained that “I have been convicted without a trial.”
Most everybody else could complain: aside from the political mess that threatened to engulf the nation, the economy likewise took a beating.
The Associated Press reported in mid-October 2000 that “the accusations [leveled by Chavit at Erap] already have had a devastating effect on the Philippines’ faltering economy… The peso plunged to a record low and the stock market dropped to its lowest point in two years Monday. The central bank has had to sharply raise interest rates, threatening growth in an economy that is already one of the slowest in Southeast Asia… The ‘crisis of leadership’ has seriously undermined investor confidence, the business groups said Tuesday, urging Estrada to step down to avert economic disaster.”
On October 17, 2000, an impeachment complaint against the president was filed with the House of the Representatives and endorsed by 41 of its members. Erap was being charged for “bribery, graft and corruption, betrayed the public trust and culpably violated the constitution.”
At least one-third of the members of the House of Representatives, or 73 out of 200+, would have to approve the complaint before it could be sent to the Senate for trial.
Seeking its level
In the succeeding days, a flurry of partisan grouping (and re-grouping—it always does, anyway—that is, like flies attracted to dung, politicians always tend to regroup and gravi-tate towards harbingers of fortune) rede-fined the Philippine political terrain. Shifts in allegiance flowed freely from one power group to the other, like water seeking its own level.
By October 19, 2000, “multi-sectoral groups, including 160 congressmen, have joined mounting support for President Estra-da and urged him to ignore the clamor by some quarters to resign due to his alleged links with the illegal jueteng operators in the country,” according to a Manila Bulletin report.
“Among those who threw their support were municipal mayors of the province of Laguna, and various urban poor and indigenous groups,” the report further stated.
It also quoted Malacañang as saying that “at least 160 congressmen, some of whom are members of the Lakas opposition party, are filing a resolution expressing strong support to President Estrada and denouncing moves to destablize the government… Earlier, the League of Provinces of the Philippines, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, the League of Barangays, and the Lawyers’ League for a Better Philippines had also aired their support for the President.”
Erap himself had acknowledged that support for him swelled not only from political leaders but more importantly from the ranks of the Filipino masses—from whom he owed his mandate, he said—in the midst of calls from various groups for him to resign.
One senator, Johnny Enrile, proposed a snap presidential election instead of an impeach-ment trial for Erap. However, at least 11 fellow senators rejected Enrile’s proposal.
In the meantime, the Senate, through its Blue Ribbon committee, has conducted its probe on Chavit’s exposè. The committee even mulled at one point inviting Erap to its probe.
Nene Pimentel, chair of the committee, suggested that he might “summon the President to attend,” claiming that “it would be wise for the President to ‘confront frontally’ Singson and his other accusers because it is ‘hurting the presidency at its core’ and is putting his administration’s legitimacy under serious doubt.”
Malacañang, however, did not feel like dancing to that beat. “It is not the way to treat the head of a separate and independent branch of government,” Executive Secretary Ronaldo “Ronnie” Zamora was quoted as saying. He further explained that “a president cannot be compelled to attend a legislative investigation, except when he voluntarily subjects himself to clear his name against any misdeeds or misdemeanors.”
In an earlier interview, media quoted Erap as saying that he was ready “to face his critics ‘anytime’ and answer point by point all allegations of wrongdoing, optimistic that he will eventually be cleared of charges filed against him.”
The Senate investigation polarized the partisan blend of Philippine politics. While the number of sectors calling for Erap’s resignation grew, the president’s allies spewed fire in his defense.
An October 20, 2000 report by the Manila Bulletin quoted several House of Represen-tatives members who slammed Erap’s critics. “The House leadership yesterday rejected part of a ‘sinister propaganda ploy’ the allegations made by opposition lawmakers that Malacañang dangled ‘pork barrel’ funds to LAMP solons in exchange for loyalty to the President,” the report said.
It also quoted then Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (LAMP, Albay), a member of the House economic think-tank, as lashing “at the Makati Business Club for drawing a parallel between the economic situation today and in 1986 as a basis for predicting the fall of the Estrada presidency.”
Quoting Majority Leader Rep. Eduardo Gullas (LAMP, Cebu):
“President Estrada has never attempted to influence any congressman to junk the impeach-ment move initiated by 26 sectoral groups and endorsed by 42 solons in the Lower House… Fun-ding for projects endorsed by congressmen in their respective district will be released at a time the DBM deems proper.”
The report further stated that “he (Gullas) laughed off claims that LAMP lawmakers have queued to the Palace to profess loyalty to President Estrada and get their projects’ funding in return.”
At the Senate, Chavit felt he and his fellow witnesses were being banged up by Erap’s allies. He threatened to stop appearing before the Senators.
There were those who felt the same. Then Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philip-pines President Orlando Quevedo said: “I am aghast at the way Senate hearings on the Singson expose are turning out. Listening and watching honorable senators go after Gov. Chavit Singson, I wonder if they really want to find the truth.”
Committee Chair Nene Pimentel must have felt obliged to explain what was going on in the investigation. He said: “Witnesses in the ongoing inquiry into the jueteng controversy involving President Estrada should not be discouraged by the questioning or scrutiny of committee members since their objectives is to establish the truth.”
That might have been the case. But the CBCP head had to think aloud “that some senators seemed more bent on destroying Singson’s credibility to protect the President, rather than to know the depth and extent of his knowledge.”
Indeed Erap’s allies in the Senate would go down in history as—for probably being over protective of the throne—the unwitting party that hastened his fall. And yet, probably unknown to the Senators as these things were happening, more and more people were making up their minds on the blame-worthiness of the popular president, despite the continued support being openly expressed by majority of elective officials—from Senators to Mayors—which in turn emboldened Erap to cling to his post. He even charged the political opposition of plotting to overthrow him.
As mentioned, an impeachment complaint has been filed in the House of Represen-tatives. Erap was being charged for bribery, graft, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
Authored principally by Representatives Heherson Alvarez and Ernesto Herrera of LAKAS, the complaint alleged, among other things, that Erap “directly or indirectly requested or received for his personal benefit P130 M out of the P200 M released by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, as may be seen from the affidavit of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis C. Singson, last Sept. 25.”
Up to this time, however, the ruling coalition—LAMP—still enjoyed an overwhel-ming majority both in the House of Repre-sentatives and in the Senate. Only a few actually gave the complainants a pragmatic chance of succeeding.
That would quickly change in the next few days.
First, then House Assistant Majority Leader Allan Peter Cayetano (LAMP, Taguig-Pateros) resigned from the administration party. This brought to two the number of key Erap allies who resigned from the ruling coalition. Three days earlier, Senator Jun Magsaysay had left LAMP.
Second, four House members belonging to the Liberal Party (LP) bolted the coalition and openly advised their party mates to follow their lead and join the call for Erap to resign.
With the LP weaning its way out of LAMP, the number of congressmen that endorsed the impeachment complaint increased from 41 to 54. The pro-impeachment House mem-bers needed 19 more signatures to reach the magic number of 73, and send the impeachment complaint to the Senate for trial.
By October 23, 2000, House Speaker Manny Villar had endorsed the schedule of hearings on the impeachment complaint to be con-ducted by the Committee on Justice. In a move interpreted by some as a shift in position—a week earlier he was one of key House members who expressed doubt if the filed impeachment complaint would prosper —Villar wanted the Committee to take as much time as it needed to promptly get its job done.
“As this is an urgent matter, I will urge the committee on rules to allow all concerned House committees to conduct sessions even during the forthcoming Congressional recess,” Villar said.
In the meantime, as the impeachment proponents continued to woo more House members to their side, Justice Committee Chair Pacifico Fajardo (Lakas, Nueva Ecija) said he would temporarily relinquish his post to Neptali Gonzalez II (LAMP, Manda-luyong), the then senior Vice Chair of the Committee, citing as reason his being a relative of GMA, the Vice President.
GMA, by this time, had added her voice to the increasingly boisterous-sounding calls for Erap to resign. Although she had already resigned from her cabinet post a week earlier, she at the time refused to be publicly associated with the Erap-resign pressure groups, saying it was “unseemly for her to do so because she was the next in line of succession.”
Playing ball with pork
Two weeks after Chavit’s exposè, the poli-tical opposition had already boasted that Erap’s impeachment trial was imminent. Heherson Alvarez said then that the minority bloc had gathered pledges of support from the majority members in numbers that were enough for the impeachment complaint to breeze through the House.
But while the opposition could hype it up; the administration could rein them in. News-hounds spotted Congress people having all sorts of “chance” meetings with Erap in Malacañang—in droves.
The second half of October 2000 saw the House of Representatives morphed into a veritable market site. The seller: House members. The buyer: Malacañang. The ten-der tool: congressional discretionary funds, also known as—and derisively called—pork barrel.
Reports had it that Erap dangled the immediate release of pork barrel funds to the House Justice Committee members hearing the impeachment complaint—on condition that the complaint would be shot down at their level.
Part of the funds was supposed to have been released at least three months earlier.
House opposition members had earlier criticized Pacifico Fajardo, the Justice Com-mittee Chair, for what they perceived as foot dragging on his part insofar as hearing the complaint by his Committee was concerned. The Justice Committee had set the initial hearing of the impeachment complaint on November 6, 2000.
Fajardo said in a media conference that at least 3 administration colleagues had ear-lier urged him to dump the complaint for being insufficient in form. He also said he yielded to pressure to reject suggestions that public hearings to be conducted by his Committee be set earlier than November 6.
Just the same, some House members—supposedly including allies of Erap—felt it was time to decide.
By October 26, 2000, Fajardo was gone. But not for good, he pledged. “I will reclaim the Chairmanship when the committee is done with the impeachment complaint,” he was reported to have assured his allies in the House.
Reports said that Fajardo, a third-degree cousin of Gloria Arroyo, could not withstand the pressure—which by now intensified by the day—from fellow House members to inhibit from his post.
The next day, just as Neptali Gonzales took the post which Fajardo vacated, the House asked the Senate through a resolution to halt its own investigation on the Chavit exposè being conducted by the Blue Ribbon Committee.
“It is the sense of the House of Represen-tatives that until the report of the committee on justice is presented to and voted upon in plenary session, even if the air is already thick with rumors of every kind as to the veracity of the charges against President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, nobody but the members of the said committee know any-thing about the progress of the investiga-tion, and all reports, analysis, comments or theories in regard to the said cases of impeachment are wholly groundless except those that shall be made from time to time by the members duly designated by the committee,” part of the House resolution said.
The Dacer-Corbito murders
At about this time—the third week of October 2000—Rep. Anthony Dequina (LAMP, North Cotabato) said that “a group composed of businessmen closely identified with two previous administrations has employed the services of a top PR man.”
The innuendo suggested that a misinforma-tion campaign was being waged by people not sympathetic to the Erap administration to further destabilize his rule.
Like vultures to a carcass, the business of managing information (and misinformation) sprang to life, just as the smell of an ailing socio-political order assailed the general public’s nostrils. Such was how the craft of public relations could be important; such was how it commanded value.
In a world of shifting loyalties, this day belonged to the PR men and women.
PR practitioners—along with their col-leagues in media—competed for air time, for people’s attention, and for how their mes-sages resonated. It would be by the per-suasive power of those messages that the world took various shapes in people’s eyes. People either favored or ditched one view over the other. They took sides. A public perception survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations noted the drop in Erap’s popularity from 68 % in October 6, 2000 to 56 % in October 30, 2000.
In times of peril, the swing of political mood could make or unmake principalities.
Chavit’s exposè—only three weeks old—has pushed the country’s highest official to a corner. Presidential silence was all Erap could put up by way of a defense. Or was it? Was he or his supporters hard at work in trying to silence other people? Could have they been busy doing something else?
As allies scrambled for words in the esca-lating media war and tried to remake Erap’s bruised image, as people protesting on the streets grew in number, as the nation’s engulfing political drama unraveled its tragic complexities—with lots of sub-plots unno-ticed even by the nosiest of kibitzers—one of those sub-plots ended with the death of two men. It also had morbid consequences for people believed to have witnessed, or at least had some knowledge of, the crime.
A month after Dequina issued his alert notice, Salvador “Bubby” Dacer, recognized for his eminent spot in the field of public relations, along with Emmanuel Corbito, his driver, disappeared and later found charred to death in Cavite.
Later reports showed that PAOCTF opera-tives had been tailing Dacer since January 2000.
In the years that followed, Erap and Ping would accuse each other of complicity in the murder of Dacer and Corbito.
And as a further indictment of the collective soul of this nation, the double-murder case, as this is written, remains unsolved.
Witnesses and those suspected of having participated in the commission of the crime were later abducted by yet unknown armed persons and under yet unexplained circums-tances. Teofilo Viña, one of the suspects, was killed in January 2002.
Gloria in takeover mode
While Erap and his troops maintained what seemed to be a façade of composure in the middle of a storm, their panicky minds were showing.
Erap in public endorsed the constitutional process of impeachment to take its course. But Erap in private was shown by his House allies as frantically courting them to nip it in the bud, so to speak. Also, some of his influential allies in the Senate presented the public with a plateful of finger foods—perhaps inspired by tactics of the squid fleeing for life.
Samples: Senator Johnny Enrile proposed a snap election. That was one. Senator Kit Tatad proposed power sharing between the ruling and opposition parties. That was another.
GMA spat at the proposals like she acciden-tally stepped on carabao dung. Did she know of something sweet? How sure was she that the gates to Malacañang loomed large in her vision, courtesy of the impeach-ment process?
On October 28, 2000, haranguing from Cebu City, she offered the nation an alliance that was groomed to present an alternative national agenda for economic and political reforms.
She had in mind the likes of the Lakas-NUCD-UMDP-Kampi, the Reporma of former Defense Secretary Renato de Villa, the Promdi of ex-Cebu Gov. Lito Osmeña, and the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas, as constituting the core of the alliance.
With the country’s political wounds threa-tening to contaminate the entire nation, likewise came what seemed to be an irreversible decline of the ailing economy. The first day of November 2000 broke in with an alarming statement from the Central Bank governor, saying that a recession looked imminent. Indeed the vital signs were bleak: skyrocketing inflation, foreign fund inflows have dried up, the stock market was in shambles, and there seemed no stopping to the downward spiral of the foreign exchange value of the peso.
And yet the problem was basically political, charged Erap’s critics. The minute he resigned, order in the economy will be restored.
GMA, the economist, was ready to take over. Erap smirked and declared he would finish his term.
Erap hit by resignations of his men
Key members of Erap’s economic team resigned in early November 2000. They included Trade Secretary Mar Roxas and four of five members of the Council of Senior Economic Advisers. In the House of Repre-sentatives, Ralph Recto, Economic Affairs Committee chairman, also resigned.
Erap asked them to reconsider. “I appeal to their sense of patriotism,” he said. He also proposed to submit himself to a referendum “to let the people decide whether I should stay as president or not.”
The economic team tried to contain what appeared to be a free-falling peso and stock markets. Now, with key economic managers gone, how were Erap’s publics (including the believers) going to make out of the badly-bruised economy?
Up to this point, the president has not responded to Chavit’s allegations except to profess his innocence. On November 3, 2000, as reports of more congressmen bolting the ruling coalition to sign the impeachment complaint broke out, he went a little farther with the referendum pitch.
Political analysts thought that Erap stood to lose more allies as more street protests—initiated by leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and some business leaders—loomed in the coming days.
And as the countdown for the start of impeachment hearings inched closer to 4 days, there just was no denying the build-up of pressure on the president.
Erap continued to project strength and stability, nevertheless. He assured his countrymen: “I will bring my case not only to the Senate, but also before the bar of public opinion. I will prove my innocence not only in the Senate, but also before our people.”
He also maintained—no matter how shaky—a grip of the majority of live bodies in Congress. Thomas Fuller in that November 3, 2000 report said that “…Opposition poli-ticians are trying to impeach Mr. Estrada in proceedings that will start Monday. But barring mass defections to their side, the current political math does not work in their favor. Mr. Estrada’s coalition controls more than 80 % of seats in the 218-member House of Representatives and has a comfor-table majority in the Senate. The opposition says it has collected more than 50 votes in the house so far, but they need more than double that to put Mr. Estrada on trial be-fore the Senate…”
By Saturday, November 4, hundreds of thousands showed up on the streets, particularly along or near the EDSA Shrine. This was the same site of “People Power” in 1986, when street protests drove President Ferdinand Marcos out of Malacañang. As in 1986, the Shrine reminded one and all the hand of the Roman Catholic Church in mounting such protest actions.
Weighing in among protesters with raucous chants of “Erap Resign! Erap Resign!” were two former presidents, Cory Aquino and Eddie Ramos, the Archbishop of Manila, the late Cardinal Jaime Sin, and business leaders Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Manuel Pangilinan.
In front of thousands, Cory addressed Erap: “’Mr. President, you are the cause of our hardships, you are the problem… Even the best actor knows when to take his final bow. History may treat you better if you go peace-fully and go now.”
Cardinal Sin, whose role in 1986 had been widely acknowledged, said Mr. Estrada should resign to “save his soul.”
From the podium to the pulpit, the bashing picked up momentum. But Erap stood his ground. “No amount of rallies can make me resign. It’s just like in the movies. The hero gets beaten up in the beginning but still wins in the end.” He said this with a PR blitz—handing out relief goods to typhoon victims in sub-urban Metro Manila.
All things considered, it must have been a grueling round for Erap, like a beaten prizefighter who kept getting up out of instinct. And yet more blows were lobbed in his direction. Another flurry of defections hit his ruling coalition.
Erap, this time, lost not just an ordinary bunch of deserters. He lost the support of the leaders of both houses of Congress, namely the House Speaker and Senate President.
Crude estimates put Erap’s new-found foes, or fair-weather friends, that are of conse-quence (from the standpoint of voting for or against the complaint) at a hundred, more or less. The count far exceeded the mini-mum number of House members required to elevate the impeachment complaint to the Senate for trial. Of this number, around 50 had endorsed (with their signatures) the complaint. Analysts also hinted that 13—at most 14—senators were leaning towards conviction. The Senate would need at least 15 of its members to unseat the president through an impeachment proceeding.
The political horizon at the Palace was everything but bright. The future of Erap’s reign looked bleak.
House Speaker Manny Villar said “he would back an impeachment complaint against the president in the House.”
He explained further:
“Every day, the economy is becoming grave. Every day, the political crisis is becoming worse. Every day, Filipinos are becoming deeply polarized.
“So we have to resolve this soon. With this, we will now be able to send the impeach-ment to the Senate.”
On the other hand, Frank Drilon, the Senate President, suggested that Erap should resign to free the people from more economic and political woes. “We should spare (them) needless suffering,” he said.
Frank also wrote an article published by the Manila Bulletin. Part of it said:
“The progress and development of our nation is being compromised by the continuing political instability… The resolution of this political crisis at the shortest possible time is essential. Various quarters and sectors of our society have already spoken to demand the resignation of the President and the immediate turn-over of the presidency to the Vice President, his constitutional successor. A positive response to this call would have provided the salutary effect of immediately resolving the political uncertainty, thus allowing all of us to focus on arresting the continued downturn of the economy. The President, however, refuses to heed this call… Let me add my voice to those who have called for the President’s resignation.”
The Committee gave in, Erap dug in
The House Justice Committee ruled on November 6, 2000 that the impeachment complaint merited consideration by the entire House. The parliamentary language called it “sufficient in form and in subs-tance.” A total of 99 members had endorsed it, and the path towards impeaching the President—a first in Philippine history—was agape. From being defiant a couple of weeks earlier, to being reluctant a week ago, the Justice Committee finally gave in to pressure to work on the complaint.
Political commentators were quick to pre-dict that Erap being tried by the Senate was now inevitable.
Just as quickly, the stock market and the peso bounced up, like a dead cat coming to life. In a single day of trading, the stock market index jumped by 16 %. Reports said it was a record. The peso, on the other hand, upped its value by 6 % relative to the dollar—also a record under these conditions.
People looked ahead and gambled in what they saw. Such was a dramatic show of trust in speculation. They must have anticipated of good things coming in with Erap going out.
But those hoping for an easy Erap exit—that is, by resignation—were in for a long night. Earlier in the day, news reports had it that negotiations for his graceful exit were underway. He denied them. In a statement read to the media, he said:
“I am not negotiating for any deals and have no intention of doing so to avoid confronting the accusations against me. I declare my steadfast commitment to defend my inno-cence against my accusers in the proper venue of our constitutional processes.”
With the Justice Committee’s endorsement, the House in plenary braced itself for a decision that would seal the fate of a presi-dent. The start of deliberations was set for Monday, November 13.
And just as his opponents thought Erap was ready to go, they found him unruffled. Rather than resign, he went on to assemble a power-packed battery of defense lawyers. His defense team included a former Supreme Court Chief Justice and a former Department of Justice Secretary.
Growled Erap: “I never think of resigning. Never, never, never.”
The wagers at the bourses crashed back to earth. The stock market index dropped 2.26 %. It already went on a slide by more than 6 % a day earlier. The peso? Well, it fell from 48 to 50 to a dollar—all in 24 hours.
In an interview, Ricardo Puno, the Press Secretary and presidential spokesman, said: “The president will fight this out. He will not cave in to the small minority of opponents who want him to leave.”
Erap and his advisers had assumably found solace in a late October 2000 survey that indicated more people, contrary to what the rallyists seemed to project, were on his side. In that survey, only 20 % of respondents believed that charges against him were true. It also found that 44 % did not want him removed from office. Close to the same number of respondents had yet to make up their minds.
On Bob Edwards’ NPR Morning Edition show, reporter Eric Weiner said: “For now, Estrada can still count on the support of the Philippine’s largest constituency, the poor.”
The show also aired a clip of an interview with Andy Ubeena, a slum dweller. He said: “Si Presidente Estrada pumupunta sa squatters’ area. Nakita nya kung papano kami kumain, kung papano kami mabuhay. Wala pang president ang gumagawa ng ganoon.” (President Estrada has gone to the slums. He has gone to see how we eat, how we live. No other president has done that.)
As Monday (November 13) drew closer, Erap’s allies in the House (who still cons-tituted the majority) moved for a change in leadership. After all, Speaker Manny Villar did not belong to the ruling bloc anymore. The same leadership challenge was being mounted in the Senate. Senate President Drilon has not only bolted the ruling party, he also had been vocal in calling for Erap’s resignation.
The maneuver for control of both houses of Congress, along with the expected lengthy legal processes that a trial of this magnitude would be invoked, hardly favored those who hoped for an early resolution of the issue. The Senate also had to cram for its own rules as an Impeachment Court.
All told, the entire impeachment process could take months to finish, and the Erap broadside risked losing momentum as it dragged on.
“The calendar is their worst enemy,” remarked Sen. Miriam Santiago, an Erap diehard.
Santiago was quoted as further saying that “Estrada likely will attempt to sway senators with a host of inducements. There’s a lot of deals being struck.”
At about this time, Erap for the first time admitted that his lawyer (who would show up in the Sandiganbayan case as Edward Serapio) had accepted 200 million pesos ($5 million) from Chavit. But, Erap said in a press briefing with foreign journalists, he “did not accept a single cent of any of that 200 million pesos. It didn’t pass through my hands. I knew about it only much later on.”
The money, Erap said, went to the account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation. Like on cue, George L. Co, chairman of the Equitable-PCI Bank, resigned as Treasurer and Trustee of that Foundation.
Erap was in the mood to make war. He dug in. By now it had been of note among observers that swing votes in the Senate could seal the outcome of the impeachment trial.
He who did not woo the fence sitters be damned. Ronald Llamas, president of party-list organization Akbayan, peddled the rumor that “some senators are being offered P100 M for an acquittal or even just an abstention.”
It did not mean such shameless bribes could come solely from Erap’s camp. “As in electoral contests, both sides are expected to provide inducements. Some of these senators will end up becoming filthy rich or powerful,” Llamas offered an expert guess.
Political careers were also on the line. Local elections were up in 6 months and “nobody really wants to be seen as a rat fleeing a sinking ship,” Llamas went on.
Another source from Malacañang shared similar lines of thought: “Senators and congressmen will all be weather vanes. They’ll go where the wind blows. Nobody wants to be unpopular. These are polite-cians.”
And wooed the politicians Erap did. On November 10, he presided over the mass oath-taking ceremony of more than 600 city mayors and municipal mayors at the Club Filipino in his home turf of San Juan, Metro Manila.
It was not only an occasion for the local officials to be photographed as new recruits of Erap’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino, it was also an opportunity for the beleaguered president to project the notion that the minority of national population that called for his resignation had it all wrong.
It was time for the silent majority to speak up:
“The oust-Erap elements clearly betray and totally disregard the will of the people,” the local officials declared through a resolution.
Palawan Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn: “The voice of the Filipinos in the provinces has been completely disregarded by a group of few Filipinos.”
Manila Mayor Lito Atienza counseled the anti-Erap elements to support the Consti-tution. “They are pitting the economy versus the truth,” he said.
The next day, November 11 (a Saturday), Erap led at the Luneta what organizers called “National Day of Prayer.” Tagged as an ecumenical rite, the intercessors sought unity and strength for the nation.
It was also seen as a massive show of support for Erap. Media reported that more than a million rallyists were in attendance. In the game of street rallies and ballyhoo, Erap went number for number, decibel for decibel. He grabbed the lead that day.
Erap, having the momentum, came out swinging the next day. “My term as President ends in June 2004. I do not plan to leave earlier. So my opponents should not be in such a hurry,” he assured his listeners in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
Erap’s Cabinet members who opted not to abandon him could not be outdone. Putting up a bold front, they issued a press release, vowing to stand by their boss come hell or high water, unless—they qualified (as if this was necessary)—he was found guilty by the Impeachment Court.
House in a storm
Monday, November 13, was as eventful as it could get.
All eyes were fixed on the House of Representatives in Quezon City. Outside of its premises, anti- and pro-Erap rallyists got entangled in a fracas that would be con-tained only by the intervention of policemen.
Inside the session hall, sights of honorable men dumping decorum turned from ugly to nasty.
Something novel in the way Manny Villar conducted the day’s business made some of his colleagues to bristle.
By practice, every session by Congress begins with a prayer. Nothing was different today. At 4:00 P.M., Manny banged the gavel to open the session. An aide hoisted the mace and planted it into its base—the symbol of the House at work.
The Speaker himself led the prayer. It was the first time he’d done so as Speaker.
“Lord God,” he said, “I ask that the House be endowed with the strength and enlight-enment in going through the virulent fires of crisis and emerge victorious underneath God’s banners… grant the House with strength to withstand the temptation of money and power, reject pressures of friends and family, to discern right from wrong in as clear a manner as distinguishing light from dark… I ask that we rise above selfish and partisan interests so that we may always at tune our individual and collective efforts to what is good for all… with hopes that the legislators be looked upon kindly by history, for this moment is a turning point in our lives… the nation faces a great crisis of leadership reflecting an erosion of the people’s confidence in government, of a crisis of political confidence rending brother Filipinos against brother Filipinos, of econo-mic confidence threatening to make the poor even poorer, and a crisis of social con-fidence testing the strength of our democ-ratic institutions… the nation more than ever, is at the crossroads between peace and chaos but the power of choice was in the legislators’ hands… that future generations would remember the House as the chamber where truth and justice reigned supreme, and walked without any equal, and went through conversion. In the virulent fire of crisis, the House emerged victorious under the Almighty’s banner.”
But what was different today was that he did not stop with the divine invocation. He went on to read the majority-backed resolution adopting the Justice Committee report and transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial.
“Mr. Speaker!” Northern Samar Represen-tative Harlin Abayon yelled at the micro-phone. “Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker!” His voice was lost in the deafening boos from the crowd. He tried to interrupt the Speaker twice. He failed—also twice.
Manny Villar rumbled on. When he was done after three minutes, the gallery erupted in jubilation. Applause and chants of “Estrada Resign” echoed throughout the otherwise somber session hall.
Almost everybody expected that the commit-tee report would go through a vote and, of course, debates, in plenary session. Villar would have none of that. He would even forego with the standard roll call.
“What the speaker did was clearly illegal. It was simply anarchy and mob rule,” Cama-rines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella said.
Maguindanao Representative Didagen Dila-ngalen threatened to nullify the proceedings by filing a case with the Supreme Court. “I am very ashamed of what happened here, he said. In his view, the Villar blitz was “a violation of the constitution and of the rules of the House.”
But Manny Villar asserted that a vote was superfluous. Part of his concluding state-ments explained his action:
“Since the Constitution mandates that when at least 1/3 of all members of the House files a verified complaint or a resolution of impeachment, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, the duty of the House becomes peremptory and ministerial to endorse it to the Senate for trial in the same manner as an approved bill.”
“Accordingly, the (House) secretary general is directed to immediately transmit to the Senate the impeachment complaint consti-tuting the Articles of Impeachment together with the verified resolutions of endorse-ment.”
In summary, the Articles of Impeachment against Erap charged that the respondent—
- Committed bribery—“from Nov-ember 1998 to August 2000, respondent has received P10 M a month as bribe money from jueteng lords as protection money channeled through Luis C. Sing-son, Provincial Governor of Ilocos Sur as may be seen from his affidavit dated Sept. 14, 2000.”
- Committed graft and corrupt prac-tices—“President Estrada violated the Constitution and stands guilty of graft and corruption when he directly or indirectly requested or received for his personal benefit P130 M out of the P200 M released by Secretary Benja-min Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management allocated under R.A. 7171 in violation of Section 3[c] of R.A. 3019, as may be seen from the affidavit of Luis C. Singson. Provincial Governor of Ilocos Sur, dated Sept. 25, 2000.”
- Betrayed the public trust—“President Joseph E. Estrada betrayed public trust and violated his own oath of office when he unduly intervened in the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of a presidential crony.
- Culpably violated the Constitution—“President Estrada violated the law and his own oath of office when he ordered the retrieval of luxury cars, sardines and clothing.
At 4:15 p.m., the Speaker banged the gavel again. He sued for recess.
When session resumed at 6:45 p.m., more mess marred the proceedings. Pro- and anti-Erap solons clashed verbally every time a point was raised. The partisan crowd at the gallery either cheered on or booed whoever had the floor.
On the agenda was selection of the 11-member panel that would prosecute Erap at the Senate trial.
San Juan Representative Jose Marie Gon-zales was so disappointed with how deco-rum was being maintained inside the session hall that he tried to snatch the mace, but was prevented by Bayani Fabic, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Represen-tatives. In the scuffle he hit Bayani, but the latter, a retired Marines General, did not hit back.
Session was suspended and was in recess for two hours. When session resumed, the 11-man-woman panel of prosecutors was finally constituted. Then another recess.
Erap’s allies could not help but berate the crowd for being rowdy, and the Speaker for not being able to impose discipline among the spectators.
Some 20 minutes past 7:00 p.m., Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Daisy Avance Fuen-tes went up the Speaker’s podium and banged the gavel. “Session’s resumed,” she declared. She apparently had no authority to preside at that instance.
Alfredo Abueg, Palawan Representative and Deputy Speaker for Luzon, directed Fuentes to dismount from the podium and for the mace to be removed.
When session resumed some half an hour later, the House elected, after an often heated exchange of words among its mem-bers, a new speaker. Arnulfo Fuentebella replaced Villar.
Earlier at the Senate, its members, by a vote of 13-6, elected Nene Pimentel as their new president, replacing Frank Drilon.
Blockbuster TV Show
Having been impeached by the House of Representatives, Erap, in public, welcomed the opportunity to prove himself innocent of the accusations leveled against him. So often he told media: “I am sure I will be acquitted. These are baseless charges.”
Ricardo Puno, the presidential spokesman, was as emphatic and repetitive when asked by media on what Erap thought about his indictment: “He (Erap) is looking forward to finally having the opportunity to respond to all of these charges.”
Of course people would not know how, in private, Erap was reacting to the blows that hit him. They did know, however, that his lawyers eventually asked the Senate to quash the case against their client, on the ground that its filing with the Senate did not follow proper procedures. As mentioned earlier, the House of Representatives did not vote on the impeachment complaint prior to its transmittal to the Senate. Then Speaker Villar explained that a vote “was unneces-sary because more than the required one-third of the members had earlier signed a petition endorsing impeachment.”
A group of trial lawyers weighed in, asking the Supreme Court to halt the impeachment proceedings for being unconstitutional, among other defects.
At any rate, Erap went on to assemble a team of defense lawyers whose badges were enough to terrify the opposing litigants. The team included Estelito “Titong” Mendoza, former Solicitor General and Justice Secretary; Andres Narvasa, former Supreme Court Chief Justice; Raul Daza, former Governor and Representative of Norther Samar and licensed to practice law in the United States; former public prosecutor Jose Flaminiano, and sought-after practicing attorney Siegfried Fortun, among others. Narvasa was the designated lead attorney.
Their courtroom wits would be pitted against those of the House-designated panel of prosecutors. The panel consisted of Feli-ciano “Sonny” Belmonte (Quezon City), as lead prosecutor, Sergio Apostol (Leyte), Antonio Nachura (Western Samar), Oscar Rodriguez (Pampanga), Joker Arroyo (Maka-ti), Oscar Moreno (Misamis Oriental), Raul Gonzales (Iloilo), Clavel Martinez (Cebu), Salacnib Baterina (Ilocos Sur), Wigberto Tañada (Quezon), and Roan Libarios (Agu-san del Sur).
Completing the cast of the show were the Senator-Judges. The newly-constituted majority included Nene Pimentel, now Senate President, Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Anna Dominique Coseteng, Ramon Revilla, Robert Jaworski, Teresa Oreta, Gregorio Honasan, Blas Ople, Juan Ponce Enrile, John Osmeña, Miriam Defensor Santiago, and Vicente Sotto III. Serge Osmeña voted for Pimentel but chose to be non-aligned. Also opting to be non-aligned were Franklin Drilon, Rodolfo Biazon, and Ramon Magsay-say. The minority bloc consisted of Tito Guingona, Renato Cayetano, Juan Flavier, Raul Roco, Loren Legarda, and Ramon Magsaysay.
The Impeachment Court would have no less than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—Hilarion “Jun” Davide, Jr.—as its presiding judge. This is what the Constitution requires when it hears the highest official of the land.
Now the attention of the entire nation was fixed on the Senate acting as an Impeach-ment Court.
And, after the preliminaries—like approval of the rules governing the trial, swearing in of Senator-Judges, summons, pleas, replies and all—the show was about to begin.
Outside of the Senate building in Pasay City, protesters—mostly anti-Erap—seemed far from being mollified. They threatened to intensify the noise, to multiply their number, and to harangue the world every day for as long as the Senate hearing was not done.
Nene Pimentel, who earlier asked the demonstrators to calm down while the impeachment trial was underway, felt un-happy with what he saw. “The continuing call for the resignation of President Estrada is a prescription for recurring instability in the country,” he said.
On a more immediate concern, he believed that the rallies had the effect of putting pressure on how the Senate would decide the case. And he was not done with his lecture, adding:
“The impeachment process is giving our country a chance to renew itself, to firm up our commitment to the rule of law and to the democratic tenets of constitutionalism.
“Except as a reminder that the senators as judges in the Impeachment Court are being watched, I do not think that the demonstrations are helping the senators any in their search for the truth or the country in projecting stability in a rule of law.
“Allow us then to do what we have to do as an Impeachment Court. After that, people may con-demn us to their hearts’ content. Or praise us to high heavens. But for the moment, please do not hector us. Pray for us. Do not bully us. Help us. Do not malign us. Work with us.
“…there are two lessons to be learned from the pain and the anguish the country is undergoing because of the impeachment trial: Nobody in this country is above the law, and the sanctity of the ballot as a means of electing good leaders is vital.
“While President’s resignation—indeed a constitu-tional option—may be the swiftest way out of the mess that we find ourselves in today, it may not be the best that can happen to our country.
“For one thing, if the President should resign because 100,000 people are marching on the streets of Metro Manila and the vice president takes over, what is to prevent a million people from marching on the streets of Metro Manila and demand that she also resigns?”
Now back to the unfolding drama at the Senate.
Followed live on national television, the impeachment trial in the Senate captured audiences in numbers enjoyed only by top-rating, mostly soap opera, shows. For 23 days, from 7 December 2000 to 16 January 2001 (except Saturdays, Sundays, and the Christmas break from 23 December 2000 to 1 January 2001, starting at 2 PM and usually ending at 8 PM, the Senate show’s riveting story line of betrayal, women, gambling, booze, power, greed and corruption, kept the people glued to their TV sets.
ABS-CBN Channel 2, the country’s largest TV network, reportedly grabbed half of total audience share for the 4:00pm to 8:00pm time slot on the first two days of the trial on December 7-8.
The highest rating prime time soap opera at the time—Rosalinda—attracted 40-50 % audience share at its peak of popularity.
We now relive those 23 days of drama and revelations.
Thursday, December 7, 2000.
At 2:00 p.m., the Philippine Senate opened its business not as a legislative body. It has been transformed into a court that was about to hear, and eventually decide on, a case. It was the first time the Philippine Senate would perform the task. Its members, majestic in their red-maroon robes, have assumed the role of judges. The session-hall-turned-courtroom brimmed with spectators.
Kit Tatad delivered the opening prayer. Then the Secretariat, who also served as Clerk of Court of the Tribunal, called the roll.
Davide called the counsels to fire their respective opening shots. The prosecution lobbed the initial salvo; the defense would be called to hit back.
For the prosecution, lead prosecutor Sonny Belmonte, Joker Arroyo, Sergio Apostol, Wigberto Tañada and Raul Gonzalez deli-vered opening statements.
Belmonte: “Our prosecutors will show that during his brief incumbency of barely over two years, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has violated his oath not once, not twice, but regularly, like clockwork.”
Apostol: “The prosecutors will expose … a criminal syndicate directed from the highest office of the land. This is the gangland mob that threatens to rule us, the mob rule that will savage our constitution and the fabric of our society unless we destroy it before it destroys us.”
Arroyo: “Your Honors please, I have never given much importance to an oath but all of us have taken our oath. Our Chair, Congressman Belmonte, has read the oath, but I will read the oath again of the President because it is only now that I realized what this oath is all about.
“When Joseph Ejercito Estrada took his oath, high noon of June 30, 1998, he said, ‘I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President of the Republic of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation. So help me God.’
“Except for his name, he violated every word of his oath. That is why the House has impeached him, that is why the Senate must convict him.”
For greater effect, Joker flashed on a wide screen inside the session hall images as he rattled off the details of his charges.
“…we shall also prove that St. Peter’s Holdings paid the P86 million with a BPI cashier’s check and more, which St. Peter’s Holdings purchased, using funds from his newly opened account in BPI. We shall show that St. Peter’s account was funded from Sel Yulo’s personal account in BPI. And that Sel Yulo’s account, personal account in BPI, was in turn funded with Check No. 0110714951 issued by a person whose signature appears on the screen.
“We want you to see this signature. Study very closely. You will notice, look at the lower portion which says an arrow. Look at the signature. Examine it carefully. It purports, then look at the signature of the President in a P500 bill which is on top. You need not be an expert to see the similarity. The name may be different but there are unmistakable signs that the signature in that check is the signature, the handwriting of the President of the Philip-pines.
“Imagine, the President of the Philippines maintaining a fictitious account! How far can he go or should he go? Look at it closely. We do not want to leave that matter. Because that is how low the President has gone down in bastardizing and prostituting even our banking system. Look at the loops, look at the strokes, they are the same. So who owned? Who paid? We are talking here of P142 million. Who is Jose Valhalla who could have P142 million? We do not even know him.”
The prosecutor was trying to link the money with the properties. Erap, Joker asserted, having used “a fictitious name, had depo-sited the check into an account controlled by a friend. The money went to buy a 50-million-peso estate for one of Mr. Estrada’s mistresses.”
At one point the screens zoomed in on one of the mansions (also called Boracay Mansion), and before everybody’s eyes there dazzled a swimming pool with an artificial white-sand beach and mechanically-whipped waves. And then there was also the master bedroom so spacious that, Joker figured out, it “could be the dwelling house of 10 to 20 poor families.”
Joker went on to say that Erap and his government wallowed in the mud of 3 Ms—money, mansions, mistresses.
“I wonder who is the bigger crook?” asked Joker. He probably wanted his listeners to compare Erap with another president. “Twenty years of the Marcos years, he never had this kind of mansions. Two years of Estrada, you have all these mansions.”
Marcos—former President Ferdinand Mar-cos, also called by media as strongman and dictator—was the one who left Malacañang in shame, after days of heavy protests (also called by media as “People Power”) in February of 1986. Reports valued Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth at $2 billion.
Joker wrapped up his piece with this parting shot:
“Mr. Chief Justice. Your Honors, because Joseph Ejercito Estrada is guilty of graft and corruption, culpable violation of the constitutional laws and betrayal of public trust and he is committing a continuing crime, we submit that President Joseph Estrada should be removed from office the moment we conclude these proceedings because we cannot have a country run by a thief like him.”
When the turn of the defense panel came, Andres Narvasa and Titong Mendoza took the floor.
Narvasa recalled the tragedy that befell Julius Caesar, the Roman Emperor, “whom the masses admired and wanted to be the leader of their nation. He was assassinated by a group of plotters who considered him unfit to rule. These plotters, by spreading rumor and gossip, had poisoned the minds of the people against him.”
Like Julius Caesar, Narvasa said Erap “is being stabbed in the back by an unfair conspiracy.”
Mendoza, on his part, countered by saying that Erap should be acquitted by the Impeachment Court because the charges relied heavily on the say-so of Chavit who, to him, had no credibility. He went to the extent of arguing that Chavit, instead of Erap, should be indicted.
“As far as the irrefutable documents and papers show,” Mendoza said, “he [Chavit] was the one who got P170 million from the province of Ilocos Sur, but as far as whether this went to President Erap, it was only—it is the word of Governor Singson. After he has falsified 13 documents, does he have any credibility left? Are you to impeach the President, terminate the mandate of more than 10 million people on the word of someone who has himself admitted and cannot possibly deny that 13 times he falsified documents?”
Friday, December 8, 2000.
The prosecution presented 2 wit-nesses in Day 2 of the hearing. One was Emma Lim. She said she used to work for Chavit Singson. She testified that her tasks included collecting Erap’s share of the jueteng money. Her booty amounted to 13 million pesos.
The second witness was Roberto Lastimoso, whom Ping Lacson replaced as Director General of the PNP.
He told the court that Erap called him to Malacañang a few days after being appoint-ted to the top PNP post in 1998. In Malaca-ñang, he met Erap and Chavit. The three of them talked. Lastimoso quoted Erap as telling him: “You help him.” The “him” referred to Chavit. Then Erap addressed both of them (Chavit and Lastimoso): “You two coordinate.”
On many occasions the testimonies of both witnesses had to pause to give way to debates over technical procedures between the prosecution and defense panels.
Over objections by the defense, the court also allowed private prosecutors to help the House-designated panel in the direct exami-nation of prosecution witnesses.
Monday, December 11, 2000.
The court took time to fine tune its proce-dures with the purpose of speeding up the trial. Marking of evidence was taking up so much time, Nene Pimentel complained. Lawyers bickered on the rules, the spectators not familiar with the technical bends and nuances of court procedures also complained.
The lawyers and the judges met today to fix the issues.
Also, Emma Lim was back at the witness stand. She went through a grinding cross-examination by Titong Mendoza.
Mendoza: “’Yon bang jueteng, di ba alam mong illegal yan?” (About that jueteng, you know it is illegal, don’t you?)
Lim: “Yes, Your Honor.”
Mendoza: “’Yang pagkokolekta sa jueteng labag yan sa batas?” (That collecting money for jueteng is breaking the law?)
Lim: “Yes, Your Honor.”
Mendoza: “”Yong tumutulong sa pagko-kolekta ng jueteng gumagawa ng kalokohan sa batas, di ba?” (That when you help collect money for jueteng you are messing up with the law, right?)
Lim: “Yes, Your Honor.”
Mendoza: “Di ka ba medyo kinabahan na ginawa mo ‘yon?” (Were you not somehow worried that you did it?)
Lim: “Kinabahan po ako pero sino ba naman ako para… kasi para kay Presidente naman ‘yang jueteng, sino naman ako…” (I was worried but who am I… because after all I knew it was for the President, so who am I…)
Tuesday, December 12, 2000.
Both the prosecution and defense teams claimed victory after 3 days of courtroom battle.
Belmonte said 2 hours of Emma Lim’s cross examination by Mendoza did not unsettle her testimony: “Not a single dent, not a single seed of doubt was sown by Mendoza.”
“The defense failed to wear down the witness. On the contrary, the witness was the one which forced the defense to throw in the towel. And the prosecution will be presenting more Emma Lims in the next few days,” Belmonte gloated.
The defense, on the other hand, claimed that Lim had a selective memory, casting doubts on her credibility. A member of the team also said she may have perjured herself.
In her testimony, she said that she personally brought jueteng money in the amount of 5 million pesos to Malacañang in 1999. When asked of what date in January, Lim said she could not recall exactly when.
Also in her testimony, Lim said she collected at least P3 M from Jinggoy Estrada, one of Erap’s sons and was then mayor of San Juan City, as part of the bi-monthly collection of jueteng money intended for Erap. Part of the collections came in the form of check (worth 1 million pesos), “colored cream and brown, with Jinggoy’s picture and that the check was good.” The United Overseas Bank Philippines issued the check.
The defense said Jinggoy produced a certification from United Overseas Bank Philippines saying that he did not maintain a current account with the bank. This prompted Raul Daza to comment that “Ms. Lim perjured herself.”
Belmonte, however, countered that “certi-fications come cheap.”
Wednesday, December 13, 2000.
Chavit took the witness stand.
Except for the now common skirmishes among lawyers representing the prosecution and the defense, not to mention the Senator-Judges’ often joining the fray, Chavit’s words were practically a replay of what he already said during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearings and in other forums before today.
Excerpts of Chavit’s testimony:
- Erap is “Lord of all jueteng”
- He gave Erap millions of pesos as the latter’s share of jueteng protection money. Mostly in the form of checks, the bribes were in amounts of P5 M twice a month.
- He collected for Erap bribes every other week from jueteng starting in Novem-ber 1998 until August 2000.
- Charlie “Atong” Ang started to collect money from jueteng operators shortly Erap assumed office in 1998 upon the latter’s instructions. The marching order was to collect 3 % of the total jueteng
- On and off misunderstanding between Atong and Erap gave occasion for Chavit to take over Atong’s task starting in August 1998. Chavit first attempt-ted to personally remit to Erap his collections in October 1998 but failed when he found Erap and Ang in the middle of an argument over quota allo-cation for sugar imports. When Ang and Erap’s verbal row subsided, Chavit asked Ang what he (Chavit) would do with the money, Ang advised him to just keep it ready as Erap was sure to look for it later.
“He is addicted to money,” Chavit quoted Ang as telling him. Since then, Singson said he freely went in and out of Estrada’s residence to deliver money.
- Chavit devised and kept a coded ledger that logged the details of jueteng remittances to Asiong Salonga (Erap), Erap’s sons Jose and Jude Ejercito, presidential assistants Anton Prieto and Jaime Policarpio.
- From 1998 to August 2000, Chavit collected around P32 M-P35 M from jueteng protection money.
What might be considered as fresh infor-mation was about a check which Chavit issued “Pay to Cash” and the looming clash between Equitable-PCI Bank and the Impeachment Court.
The check, Chavit said, was meant for Erap, and the prosecution tried to establish the link between the bribe money and the accused through the examination of bank records. Erap earlier admitted that his lawyer accepted as much as P200 M without his knowledge, but would later know that the full amount was intact and deposited with the account of Erap Muslim Youth Foundation at the Equitable-PCI Bank.
The court issued a December 6, 2000 subpoena to the bank on the account of Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, particularly with respect to checks amounting to P200 million.
Equitable-PCI Bank hesitated to comply with the court order, but eventually relented when Davide threatened its officials with contempt raps.
The prosecution also sought the bank records to show that Erap used plundered money to buy a mansion for one of his mistresses.
Joker rued that the bank appeared to be stonewalling the presentation by the prose-cution of its evidence.
“The President would be convicted on bank records,” Joker stated.
Exchange of heated words also occurred between the lawyers and judges, and among the judges themselves.
Narvasa asked why Guingona, a judge, made it look like he was part of the prosecution.
Narvasa complained that the prosecution brushed aside an earlier agreement for the defense to be given a 3-day notice of any deposition-taking process. The defense, he said, had little time to prepare for the deposition of an Equitable-PCIBank official.
Enrile, also a judge, asked Guingona if the later had a dispute with Davide’s ruling on the 3-day notice.
The prosecution explained that the depo-sitions were a continuing process, thus sub-sequent notifications were no longer neces-sary. Narvasa held his ground. He asserted that failure to follow agreed procedures at the start made all succeeding depositions void, or words to that effect.
Meanwhile, another drama outside of the courtroom was taking shape. The prose-cution panel, through its spokesman, Rep. Edmundo Reyes (Marinduque) disclosed that 2 of its witnesses left for unknown destinations overseas.
The two witnesses were former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Director Ruben Alma-dro, also of the SEC. Almadro headed the team that probed an irregularity involving BW stocks. Erap’s alleged interference in that probe gave rise to one of the four charges constituting the Articles of Impeachment.
Earlier the prosecution also aired its concern over threats to the life of Emma Lim, one of the prosecution’s key witnesses.
Thursday, December 14, 2000.
The Senate Tribunal decided not to admit for the time being the bank records as evidence being presented by the prosecution.
Aside from the Equitable-PCI Bank records, the prosecution likewise asked the Senate Tribunal to summon certain documents from the Manila affiliate of Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB), Westmont Bank (acquired by UOB), and Land Bank of the Philippines. These banks, according to the prosecution, held the records that could establish the movement of embezzled funds from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur to Chavit and, finally, to Erap. The money, amounting to 130 million pesos, more or less, was part (a large chunk) of funds released by the national government to the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur as its share from proceeds of excise tobacco taxes pursuant to the provisions of RA 7171 (please see also Chapter 8).
On the sealed documents submitted by the Equitable-PCI Bank, the defense objected to their presentation as evidence, on the ground that they were “immaterial and irrelevant” to the case. The prosecution lawyers said that the bank records linked Erap to the properties that they alleged were bought using jueteng money.
The defense lawyers, on the other hand, argued that ownership of the properties (the Boracay mansion in particular), being sought to be proven was not specified in the charge sheets (Articles of Impeachment) transmit-ted by the House of Representatives to the Senate for trial.
The court decided that Davide himself, as presiding judge, would rule on whether the Equitable-PCI Bank documents would remain sealed or not. That ruling would be issued by Friday, December 15, 2000.
Maria Carmencita “Menchu” Itchon, Chavit’s accountant, testified that “Mrs. Yolanda Ricaforte, alleged auditor of President Estrada on the matter of jueteng collection and detailed at Singson’s Manila office,” called through telephone a number of perso-nalities—such as Jinggoy Estrada, presiden-tial counsel Edward Serapio and suspected Central Luzon gambling lord Rodolfo “Bong’ Pineda—in an apparent attempt to link Racaforte to Erap.
Friday, December 15, 2000.
Over objections from the defense panel, Presiding Judge Davide allowed the opening of bank documents submitted by Equitable-PCI Bank. However, he also ruled that the envelope containing the documents maybe opened only Monday, December 18, 2000.
“Their [defense lawyers] objection is ‘premature’ since the contents are not known and that there would be sufficient opportunity to challenge admissibility later” explained Davide.
The prosecutors insisted that bank docu-ments would prove Erap’s link to the fictitious account, from which funds were drawn to buy properties for his mistresses.
Day 7 also marked the second day of Chavit’s direct testimony. He delved on his close association with Erap before they parted ways. He testified that he stood as the godfather of Jacob, Erap’s son by Laarni Enriquez. He also said that Erap, in turn was godfather at the wedding of his children Randy and Racquel. He further disclosed that he was one of Erap’s constant compa-nions during mahjong games in many of Erap’s residences as well as in provincial sorties and even foreign trips.
Members of the court also discussed the issue of some of the rules not being followed by Senator-Judges. Much-abused was the 2-minute rule granted to each senator judge within which to ask a witness.
Davide said the issue would be taken by members of the court in a meeting set for Monday, December 18, 2000.
Monday, December 18, 2000.
Two executives from Equitable-PCI Bank took the witness stand. They testified that Ricaforte did maintain accounts with the bank. They, however, denied Erap was in any way associated, or was behind, in any of the accounts being maintained with the bank. They told the court that only three persons had access to the accounts, namely: Rica-forte, Chavit, and William Gatchalian.
Gatchalian was one of Erap’s gambling pals and another bonafide member of his so-called “Midnight Cabinet.” His access to Malacañang had been fortified by his appointment as Presidential Adviser on Affairs of Overseas Filipino Workers.
Meanwhile, as Senator-Judges mulled the idea of over-ruling Davide’s decision to open the envelope containing the bank records submitted to the Impeachment Court by Equitable-PCI Bank, Jaime Dichaves, reportedly one of Erap’s cronies and member of the “Midnight Cabinet,” wrote the court to say that he (Dichaves) owned the Jose Velarde account.
Tuesday, December 19, 2000.
Philippine Daily Inquirer reporters Christine Herrera and Carlito Pablo testified that Bubby Dacer, the PR guru who, along with his driver, disappeared on November 24, 2000, was one of around 100 individuals being wire-tapped by the Presidential Anti-Orga-nized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF).
Reports had also circulated that members of the Impeachment Court were being moni-tored by the PNP, but which its chief—Ping Lacson—has denied. Lacson also headed the PAOCTF.
Wednesday, December 20, 2000.
The Impeachment Court opened the enve-lope containing the bank records submitted by Equitable-PCI Bank.
Lutgardo “Lutz” Barbo, Secretary of the Senate and ex-officio Clerk of Court, opened the envelope and read its contents.
Standing close to Barbo and going over the same material being read in open court were lawyer Jose Flaminiano for the defense, and private prosecutors Romeo Capulong and Amado Valdez for the prosecution.
Witnesses certified to the authenticity of signatures that appeared on the documents.
Capulong pointed out that “there were erasures on the ‘balance’ bracket of the bank ledger dated Oct. 1-31, 1999, where the entry of P142 M check was supposed to have been debited against the account and subsequently entered the same day.”
From Day 1, the prosecutors had asserted that Erap used an account at the Equitable-PCI Bank, opened by Erap himself using a fictitious name, to issue a check valued at P142 M that in turn found its way to another presidential crony who bought the Boracay mansion.
However, Wilfredo Vergara, president of Equitable-PCI Bank, denied that the docu-ments the bank submitted to the court were altered to hide Erap’s association with the questioned accounts.
Thursday, December 21, 2000.
News of conversion filtered out of Malaca-ñang today. Filipino Reporter quoted Mala-cañang officials as saying that “the ‘juetengate’ scandal, the resignation of key Cabinet members, and the ongoing impeachment trial have brought the Presi-dent to his senses.”
Over at radio dzBB, Ernie Maceda, presi-dential spokesman on the impeachment trial, said “the President is now seen working even on Saturdays and Sundays and was no longer going to Tagaytay ‘or elsewhere’ to have fun with friends.”
This definitely was a dramatic turn from the depiction of a president who loved to drink, gamble and party until dawn of the next morning, and hated to perform the serious duties demanded of his office.
Meanwhile at the Senate Impeachment Tribunal, five branch managers of the Equitable-PCI Bank took the witness stand, namely: Shakira Yu (Robinsons-Herran-Pedro Gil); Virgilio Pabillon (T.M. Kalaw); Edgardo Alcaraz (Quezon Avenue); and Emma Gonzales of Isidora Hills (Holy Spirit-Quezon City).
Days earlier, several bank managers, namely Edelquin Dantes (Scout Tobias-Quezon city; Rosario Bautista (Diliman-Matalino) also testified as prosecution witnesses.
On the controversial envelope which the court opened Wednesday, December 20, 2000, Oscar Moreno, one of the House-designated prosecutors and a bank execu-tive for 20 years before he joined politics, apologized to the court for talking aloud about his doubts on the integrity of docu-ments submitted to the Senate by the Equitable-PCI Bank.
Davide lamented what he called Moreno’s breach of the canons of professional ethics. “It is unfortunate that there were comments of alleged doctoring (of the bank documents that were opened in open court last Wednesday),” Davide said.
In explaining himself, Moreno said that “no statements, insinuations, or motivations were made that the Senate was involved in any way in the alleged tampering… and if there were insinuations, we beg the (court’s) indulgence… I did not say that it was the court or anyone here who made the altera-tion, it must be somebody else, maybe in the bank.”
Friday, December 22, 2000.
Something even more riveting happened on the witness stand today. Clarissa Ocampo, senior vice-president and trust officer of the Equitable PCI Bank, surprised those who have been following the impeachment trial both live and on television when she said she saw Erap sign “Jose Velarde” when Erap opened a trust account with the bank.
In a testimony that lasted close to 4 hours, she disclosed, among other things, that—
- she was about a foot away from Erap when Erap signed as “Jose Velarde” in the signature cards;
- the account covered an initial invest-ment of P500 M; and that
- Equitable-PCI Bank legal department head Manuel Curato was present to witness the signing.
“I just couldn’t believe it. He did not sign his real name so I decided not to authenticate his signature,” Ocampo said during direct examination by Mario Bautista, a private prosecutor.
Just a couple of days ago, Erap vehemently denied in an interview that he and Jose Valhalla/Velarde was one and the same, as alleged by the prosecution.
The documents which Erap signed included an investment management agreement, a directional letter to invest, an investment program, and an authority to debit from and credit to the trust account.
Ocampo also revealed that the investment agreement authorized the bank to invest the amount of P500 M from Erap’s trust account by lending it to a company owned by William Gatchalian.
With an annual salary that amounted to less than a million pesos, Ocampo’s testimony uncovered the extent of Erap’s association with ill-gotten wealth.
Mario Bautista further offered the infor-mation that Erap’s trust account soon swelled to P1.2 B. The private prosecutor also drew the contrast to the amount of P35 M which Erap declared as assets in Erap’s 1999 income tax returns. The question he proposed to be answered was: how could Erap’s assets grow from P35 M to somewhere near P500 M in a matter of 2 months?
On surface, Erap appeared to have violated every law there was, not the least of which being tax evasion, falsification of public documents, and perjury.
The problem was, according to the defense, such an array of peripheral allegations were not part of the Articles of Impeachment.
The basic contention by the defense lawyers that the information being elicited from Ocampo by the prosecution was “immaterial and irrelevant” to the hearing of charges against their client as enumerated in the Articles of Impeachment gave rise to long debates among opposing counsels and the senator judges.
Davide agreed with the defense. He ruled that Ocampo’s testimony would be headed to the trash bin unless the prosecution was able to link it to the charges lodged with the Impeachment Court.
In any event, Ocampo had her moments. Her words were few and far between in comparison to the torrent of verbiage from the lawyers and Senator-Judges, but the meaning and the implications of what she disclosed were, as the succeeding days would prove, beyond measure.
After 11 days of witfest the score between the contending parties was about even. On the 12th day, however, with Ocampo at the witness stand, it was hard not to admit that Chavit and the prosecution team looked better.
The week before, on Tuesday, 19 December 2000, George L. Go had resigned as Chairman of Equitable-PCI Bank, following the opening of bank documents that showed a person with initials of G.L.G. had introduced someone with a name of Jose Velarde to open an account with the bank.
Tuesday, January 2, 2001
The Impeachment Court took an 11-day holiday break that started Saturday, Decem-ber 23, 2000. Trial was set to resume on Tuesday, January 2, 2001.
The drama generated by the trial had attracted an unexpected number of viewers. People found themselves glued to their TV sets. Mainstream media networks scram-bled to reposition their programming. Regular programs that competed with the airtime of the reality show at the Senate—from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays—had to be scrapped to give way to the live coverage of the trial. Otherwise even the likes of “Marimar” risked losing a large chunk of their viewership shares.
The trial had commanded quite a following among all classes of Philippine society. The followers—of the kind that fired up mass hysteria—had turned from kibitzers to hardcore supporters of opposing camps in the political spectrum. And the resulting division from among Filipinos had dragged the country into one of its worst social, economic and political crisis in recent years.
And yet, in keeping with the good old Filipino trait of laughing away misfortunes, one would assume people in the main felt relieved they were leaving the year 2000 behind. One would also think they would try—and try hard—to welcome 2001 with renewed vigor and optimism.
But what a way for an old, weary year to part with an incoming, new one.
On December 30, a Saturday, Satan-guided bombs exploded and ripped apart several highly-populated areas in Metro Manila.
Almost simultaneously explosions thun-dered from inside a LRT train in Manila, also inside a bus terminal in Quezon City, beneath a bench near the U.S. Embassy also in Manila, and an airport fuel depot in Paranaque.
At least 22 people who could have been in revelry mood were killed. These poor souls were innocent except for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. One casualty, a bomb expert, was trying to defuse a bomb in a gas station near Dusit Hotel in Makati. Over a hundred more people were injured.
Police officials were quick to suggest that the grisly act was part of a terror plot carried out by Muslim extremists. The Abu Sayyaf, in particular—the Muslim terror group believed by many (especially government agents) to be responsible for numerous kidnappings in the past, loomed eerily large in many people’s minds. Other government officials saw the hand of communist insurgents.
But Manuel Mogato, a military analyst, doubted the capacity of either Abu Sayaff or the communists to mount such a coordi-nated attack. “It’s far more likely that it is the military than the Abu Sayyaf or the Communists,” he said.
The December 31, 2000 issue of the Washington Post quoted a military official who shared Mogato’s view, saying “the prospect of military involvement in the bombings was ‘very possible because the Estrada administration is desperate for survival.’ ”
Seven days after the bombings, the police said they had an airtight case—not against the Abu Sayyaf—but against what it called “Afghanistan trained elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).”
In a statement, PNP top gun Ping Lacson said their investigation of the case revealed “concrete proof of MILF involvement.”
But Erap himself had showed signs of ambivalence. On January 7, 2001, he cited the role of the military and the police in containing acts of terrorism and—as if to justify whatever their role might have been in the bombings as some people believed—in “their defense of democracy.” He has always maintained, in response to calls for his resignation, that the impeachment process was the way of democracy and of the constitution.
There were those who thought the police seemed to be picking suspects out of convenience. Quoting Muslims and Chris-tians alike, The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) said in an article that Muslims “are being used as scapegoats by a government under fire as President Joseph Estrada faces an impeachment trial based on fraud and corruption allegations that could cost him his job.”
The article went on:
“When his [Estrada’s] ratings were low, he launched an attack [against the Muslim rebels in Mindanao] and his ratings went up. And now, because of the impeachment, he’s trying again,” says Dato Amerol-Gulan Ambiong, chairman of the Metro Manila Peace Coordinating Council.
“Such conspiracy theories seem to be gaining currency outside of Muslim groups. Many here say there seems to have been little motivation for the MILF to start bombing Manila: The group signed an agreement with the government in 1996, but suspended talks during this summer’s military crackdown, and was set to resume negotiations. Veteran observers of Philippine politics recall that Ferdinand Marcos, who was deposed in 1986, is reported to have been responsible for violence in Manila as a pretext to declaring martial law in 1972.
“ ‘What strikes me is that it’s taking place at the very time the impeachment trial is taking place,’ says Carmen Pedrosa, a columnist and opponent of the Estrada regime. ‘I can’t accept that in the midst of this trial the Muslims would make this kind of chaos,’ she says.
“Cong. Roilo Golez, in a quick break from the impeachment proceedings, offered a similar analy-sis. ‘Right now people are beginning to suspect that they [the government] are trying to aggravate the feelings of the Muslims [to] rile them up in order to create another war in Mindanao,’ says Mr. Golez. ‘That would divert attention from the trial and improve Estrada’s ratings.’
The MILF denied they were involved in the attacks. The same CSM article quoted an MILF negotiator who said the government “is making a big mistake in pointing its finger to the MILF.”
The article also quoted Moner Bajunaid, a professor of Islamic Studies at Mindanao State University, who said: “We interpret this move as a desperate move on the part of the government, when they don’t have anything against us. We renounce any terrorist acts. The MILF does not engage in any moves to harm civilians, and the MILF itself is not out to bring down the Estrada administration. I don’t think any other elements based in Mindanao are, because there’s no gain in trying to make a move in Manila. But now the government is using the MILF as a way out of its predicament, and this will definitely hamper the resumption of talks.”
Opposition Representative Heherson Alvarez issued a statement, saying “these attacks are coming from people who fear the truth that is coming out at the impeachment trial.”
Malacañang brushed aside the fingers poin-ting at it. Addressing the media, presiden-tial spokesman Michael Toledo said: “Let me say that is really a pathetic statement. A number of innocent lives have already been lost because of this cowardly and dastardly act, yet some people continue to play politics.”
Against this backdrop, Erap’s impeachment trial at the Senate resumed.
It must be recalled at this point that the prosecution bombed, as it were, the trial before it went on an 11-day break with the testimony of Equitable-PCI Bank Senior Vice President Clarissa Ocampo. The prosecution witness declared under oath that Erap on February 9, 1999 signed as “Jose Velarde” on documents related to the opening of a trust account with her bank. The account associated with Jose Velarde, the prose-cution said, had, at one time or another, a maintaining deposit in amounts as big as 3 billion pesos. Portions of these funds were used to buy properties—like mansions—that were in the possession of Erap’s mistresses.
Also during the break, Executive Secretary Ronnie Zamora said something to the effect that Prod Laquian—early on Erap’s sira-ulo of a Chief Of Staff—told him that Ocampo lied when she said Erap signed as Jose Velarde. Responding to a question, Ocampo on the witness stand had said that Laquian, among others, witnessed the signing.
Zamora, not Ocampo, lied, according to Federico Pascual in his column at the Philippine Star. Laquian, Pascual said, emailed to him in reply to his (Pascual) request for clarification on the Zamora claim. “I have not talked to Zamora since I left Malacañang,” Pascual quoted Laquian as saying.
The Zamora chicanery prompted Pascual to comment that “one reason why the Estrada Administration is sure to crumble is that it is built upon lies upon lies… A regime built on the sands of falsehood may be able to stand for a while, like cinematic props, but it can-not last. The onslaught of truth will event-ually overwhelm it.”
More attempts to advance falsehood would be revealed today, the 13th day of the trial.
Clarissa was back at the witness stand. She said that seven days before she testified on December 22, 2000, “there was an attempt to assign the Velarde trust account of P500 M to presidential crony Jaime Dichaves in a bid to take the heat off Mr. Estrada.”
Ocampo told the court that “replacement documents were signed Dec. 13 by Dicha-ves in Titong Mendoza’s office on Rada Street in Makati City.”
One would recall that Dichaves on December 18 wrote the Impeachment Court to say that he owned the Velarde account with a check deposit in the amount of P142 M.
Ocampo told the court “her former boss, George Go, at the time the chairman of Equitable-PCIBank, ordered her to cover up Mr. Estrada’s ownership of the bank account under the name Jose Velarde.”
“He directed me to prepare documents to replace the original papers on the P500-million Velarde trust account,” she said.
She also said that “Go told [me] that the principal (Mr. Estrada) wanted the date of the second set of documents antedated to Feb. 4, the same date that the President signed the original documents as ‘Jose Velarde’ at Malacañang.”
There was a little problem, however, with the plan: There was no letter of authority from the principal. Ocampo, in her testimony on December 22, said she did not authenticate some of the Velarde documents after she saw Erap signing them.
“The directional letter never came so we have no authority to assign the Jose Velarde account to Jaime Dichaves,” she said.
Keen observers may recall that on December 21, Oscar Moreno, one of the prosecutors, told the court that he suspected some people from Equitable-PCI Bank had altered the documents the bank submitted to the Impeachment Court and opened by the court the day before, December 20.
At any rate, she also said “there were also broad hints from a lawyer of the President that she should seek to ‘protect’ [Erap] in the new documents she prepared.”
She also stated that she feared for her life, saying the bombings that occurred 8 days after she showed up as a witness have made it scarier for her.
“I now live in hiding,” she said.
She went on to say she was afraid because she was up against a powerful adversary. “This is the government… this is Malaca-ñang.”
The defense lawyers, maintaining that her testimony was irrelevant to the case, chose not to cross-examine her.
The day’s hearing, as in most others that preceded this, had long and frequent bouts among lawyers debating on why some questions being asked by the prosecution should be answered by the witness, or even why the witness should, at all, be allowed to testify or not.
Wednesday, January 3, 2001
For 4 hours the defense lawyers cross-examined Chavit. When they were through with him, both the defense and the prose-cution claimed some sort of winning points.
The defense was able to show that Chavit could not remember some details of his testimony. The prosecution, on the other hand, maintained that on the whole the cross-examination bolstered, rather than undermine, Chavit’s credibility.
A sideshow emerged in the person of defense lawyer Titong Mendoza. Clarissa Ocampo earlier testified that then Equitable-PCI Bank Chair George Go directed her to prepare documents that would replace ownership of the Jose Velarde account from Erap to Dichaves, and that the signing of the dubious documents was done at Mendoza’s office.
With that disclosure, eyes turned from the accused (Erap) to the counsel (Titong).
A group of lawyers threatened to file a disbarment case against Mendoza.
Senator Drilon weighed in. He remarked: “Attorney Mendoza has a lot of explaining to do.” He asked: “What were George Go (then the chairman of the Equitable-PCI Bank) doing in his office. If they were not his clients as he had said previously, why did they suddenly appear in his office without any previous agreement?”
Mendoza dismissed the diatribe directed at him. “They [the prosecution] should file charges against him if they think I commit-ted any wrongdoing,” he said.
Thursday, January 4, 2001
There were times when exchanges of words among lawyers and Senator-Judges could get personal. This day saw one of those exchanges.
On the witness stand was Jasmine Banal, a lady lawyer. She testified that she worked for Edward Serapio at the time the latter put up shell companies for Erap. These companies, according to the prosecution, served as conduit for transfer of illegally-acquired money and properties.
Miriam Santiago found it odd that Banal, who admitted during cross-examination that by associating with Serapio her professional fee suffered as a result, would go against the norm of high-driving lawyers who were always on the look-out for better-paying opportunities.
Raul Roco interjected. He got Banal to admit that the law was a noble profession, unmindful of monetary rewards as it was mindful of service to society.
Santiago instantly got Roco’s drift and, almost by reflex, barked to say how she resented the way one senator was under-cutting another senator.
The crowd loved the unfolding play. One or two tried—but failed—to contain the burst of their laughter. Some rose to give themselves a better view of the stage and the cast of characters, while others were content to strain their necks upward, side ward or forward.
From the corner of her eye Miriam spotted at least three wayward fans—over-stepping the line that separated the audience from the stage, she said—and asked the court to eject them from the session hall.
The court obliged, with a lecture to boot:
“Anyone disrupting the impeachment pro-ceedings will be barred from entering the Senate hall and the Senate security is direc-ted to escort them out and prevent them from ever entering the rest of the session days of this impeachment proceedings,” Senate President Nene Pimentel warned the gallery.
Over at Malacañang, Erap could not hide his disgust over actions being carried out, or at least tolerated, by the new leadership of the Equitable-PCI Bank.
“They don’t want me to succeed because my priority is helping the poor,” Erap grumbled, referring to the Makati Business Club whose chair, Ricardo Romulo, was also the new chair of Equitable-PCI Bank, vice the resigned George L. Go.
Romulo fired back:
“That there is a conspiracy between Equit-able-PCI Bank and the Makati Business Club (MBC) to oust President Estrada exists only in his mind.
“I must stress that the testimony of Ms. Ocampo resulted from a subpoena issued by the Impeachment Court. The documents and events described by Ms. Ocampo all predate my assumption of the Chairman-ship.
“While I was informed about the trust account I refused to see it. I also purposely refused to talk to Ms. Ocampo about it, since I knew the administration would precisely attempt to lay the blame on me. However, when I was advised that Ms. Ocampo was to testify by virtue of the subpoena, I inter-posed no objection.”
Friday, January 5, 2001
The prosecution presented witnesses from the Land Transportation Office, Social Secu-rity System and Land Bank of the Philippines to establish the identities of people involved in the encashment of checks, with an aggregate amount of P130 M that, after going through several consignees and within a labyrinth of bank branches, supposedly ended up in the hands of Erap—via Atong. The amount was part of P200 M released by the national government to Ilocos Sur as the latter’s share from the tobacco excise tax.
Monday, January 8, 2001
Maria Cristina Rodenas, cashier of Land Bank (Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City branch), took the witness stand. She told the court that three people who identified themselves as Alma Alfaro, Eleuterio Tan, and Delia Rajas opened separate accounts with her bank on August 28, 1998. The three then used their respective accounts to withdraw funds transferred from the Land Bank (Vigan branch) account of the Provin-cial Government of Ilocos Sur.
According to Rodenas, the three account holders were able to withdraw a total amount of P130 M in three batches on the same day (August 28, 1998).
She also testified that as soon as the withdrawals were completed, one Yolanda Uy called her up thrice to ask that bank records relating to the P130-M transaction be shredded. Rodenas said she did not grant Uy’s request.
Tuesday, January 9, 2001
The defense blocked an attempt by the prosecution to present bank records as evidence, contending that they were not relevant to the case being tried.
The bank records had something to do with a number of various accounts which, accor-ding to the prosecution, were being main-tained at the Citibank-Greenhills by Erap and Loi Estrada as well as those of Erap’s mis-tresses.
Having failed to resolve the issues being raised by the defense on the admissibility of its offer of evidence, the prosecution procee-ded to introduce the hearing of Article 3 of the charge sheet.
Wednesday, January 10, 2001
The prosecution turned to Article 3 of its complaint—betrayal of public trust. It presented as witnesses the late Ruben Almadro, former chief of the compliance and surveillance group of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and Jose Luis Yulo, former president also of the PSE.
The witnesses testified that Erap had tried on many occasions to influence them in the conduct of investigations on the BW stock manipulation scandal. They said they were made to understand that Dante Tan was a Palace friend and therefore should be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Almadro said that the investigation his group conducted, along with the one the SEC con-ducted, established the fact that “Tan and his associates engaged in schemes and questionable practices like ‘wash sale,’ ‘kiting,’ and ‘insider trading’ to push up the sales of the BW shares.”
Almadro also said that Erap learned about Tan’s bribing then SEC chairman Perfecto Yasay—also with the aim of freeing Tan from complicity—but did nothing about it.
Sometime in February 2000, Almadro said, he and Yulo briefed Erap in Malacañang on the findings of the investigations. The presi-dent remarked, after the briefing, that Tan was actually a victim, having lost mil-lions of pesos from the trading.
Yulo testified that Erap called him up by phone several times during the PSE investi-gations to intervene in behalf of Tan. He also said he met several times with, and received calls from, Yasay. Yulo said Yasay often complained about how he felt pressured by Malacañang and not having any choice but to absolve Tan.
“It looks like we have no choice [but to clear Tan],” Yulo quoted Yasay as telling him in one of those meetings.
Yulo narrated some of the instances during which time Erap reached him by phone. On November 17, 1999, Erap intimated his concern for BW. Erap told him about a directive he would issue shortly to address the negative stories BW had been getting from media. The president also assured Yulo of Tan being a good man.
Erap was back on the line the next day. He asked Yulo to restore the 50 % trading bandwidth and—on a matter that perhaps really mattered—a plea for a good friend. “He is a nice guy,” Erap told Yulo, in reference to Tan. “He has been helping me for a long time.”
Then again, on November 22, 1999, Erap nudged Yulo to wind up PSE’s BW probe, even volunteering the information that SEC has concluded its own investigation on the issue.
The next day, November 23, Yulo said Erap pushed further his intervention for Tan. “He is innocent and lost a lot of money,” Erap insisted in his defense of Tan.
Yulo offered to let Erap know what the investigation team had to say as soon as its report was completed. The president pro-bably had an inkling of what the report would say. He assured Yulo: “Sabagay, kung may kasalanan, wala talaga tayong magagawa riyan. Pero kaibigan ko ‘yan, tinulungan ako niyan, senador pa lang ako.” (Anyway, there is nothing we can really do if he is found guilty of wrongdoing. But he is a friend. He has been helping me even from the time I was a Senator.)
The February 2000 meeting with Erap at Malacañang (also narrated by Almadro on the witness stand) was the time Erap was briefed about the PSE report.
Erap griped: “Bakit di sinabi sa akin ni Dante ito? May problema pala siya. Sabi niya, nalugi raw siya.” (Why didn’t Dante tell me this? He told me he lost money.)
Yulo told the president that on the contrary, Dante Tan earned millions. “What he did was gross. He should not get away with it.”
In the presence of Yulo and Almadro, Erap then lambasted Yasay. “This Yasay was ‘walang hiya’ (has no shame.” Erap said Tan told him “ayos na si Yasay” (Yasay has been fixed) with a hand language that suggested “money was all it took to fix it.” And yet, with the report, it looked like Yasay did not clear Dante Tan. Furious Erap went farther to call Yasay “hindi lalake ‘yan” (not a man).
Yulo said Erap did advise him to charge Tan in court if evidence warranted it.
Outside of the Impeachment Court, Dante Tan made some noise himself. He disclosed in a radio interview that Senator-Judge Rene Cayetano asked, and received, from him 4 million pesos worth of BW stocks, and profited around 60- to 70-million pesos from them. Tan said Cayetano paid him 4.5 million pesos, but only when the Senate conducted its own investigation in early 2000 on the BW insider trading scandal.
“Not true,” Cayetano replied, dismissing Tan’s charges. “I profited around 49 million pesos only.”
Thursday, January 11, 2001
Former Finance Secretary Edgardo Espiritu told the Impeachment Court that he believed Erap “was a part owner, and made a lot of money from the questionable surge in the price of the stocks, of BW Resources.”
BW Resources was subject of investigations conducted separately by the PSE, SEC and the Senate. Espiritu was one of Erap’s cabi-net appointees when the latter took office as President in 1998. He also served as presi-dent of the State-controlled PNB.
Espiritu disclosed that in November 1999 he argued with Lucio Tan, another presiden-tial friend, on the issue of PNB’s privatization.
“I was angry and we raised our voices because the commitment I made to the president is (that) I will help Lucio Tan, but (the bank privatization) must go through public auction … but (Tan) wanted a merger,” Espiritu said. “I was called by the president and he told me, ‘Ed, whatever Lucio wants, give it to him.’ Because of that I made up my mind to resign.”
Espiritu also told the court that Erap had a hand in PNB’s extending a loan of P600 M to BW Resources in 1999 despite the corporation’s inability to comply with the Bank’s collateral requirements.
Friday, January 12, 2001
Espiritu returned to the witness stand. Yasay also showed up as a witness for the prose-cution.
Espiritu told the court that he feared for his life not so much because of Erap, but rather because of smugglers he mentioned in his testimony that frequented the presidential palace especially during social gatherings.
The day before, January 11, Espiritu testified that one of the reasons he resigned from Erap’s cabinet was his inability to contain corruption at the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. As Finance Secretary, both bureaus were under his supervision.
Yasay, on the other hand, testified that the President called him up several times in an apparent attempt to intervene in behalf of Dante Tan. He said Erap told him that “Tan had not engaged in insider trading and price manipulation at the stock market to create an artificial atmosphere for BW stocks (so that their price would appreciate).”
Monday, January 15, 2001
Yasay was back on the witness stand and was cross examined for more or less 5 hours.
Raul Daza, the cross examining defense lawyer, tried to raise doubt upon the court Yasay’s credibility as a witness. Among other questions, Daza wanted Yasay to explain why the latter issued contradictory statements in relation to the BW controversy.
Records showed that Yasay, in an earlier Senate Committee hearing on the BW scandal, implicated Erap of interference in the investigation being conducted then by the PSE and SEC. But when interviewed later by media, he cleared Erap. Yasay explained that as a subordinate, he could not openly defy Erap’s orders; but he could do so under the Senate hearing because he was under oath.
The defense played a video recording of one of Yasay’s media interviews. After the video was played, Davide, the presiding judge, asked the defense lawyer if he had further questions.
Daza: “No further questions on cross examination. We close the cross examination.”
Davide: “Redirect, Prosecutor Gonzalez?”
Gonzalez: “Yes, a few redirect questions.”
Davide: “You may now proceed.”
Gonzalez: “Mr. Witness, you have heard the replay of the tapes. You confirmed the transcript of the same tape. Can you make a comment on this?”
Yasay: “Let me just make this observation with respect to the tapes that were played.
First, contrary to what the defense had mentioned earlier, these were interviews conducted not on the 19th of January in the evening. The interview conducted by Tina Monzon Palma came after that. The interview also of… Mr. Coco Alcuaz referred to tapes where I was interviewed on the 19th of January at about nine o’clock in the evening. But that tape itself was not made on the 19th of January. The “Pulso” tape which is part of the Coco Alcuaz tape was made on the 19th of January.
So I would like to explain why…”
Gonzalez: “Can you please explain?”
Yasay: “…precisely these statements were made by me.
“Right after I stood up at the Senate Committee hearing and on my way home in my car, my cellular phone rang and there was a man’s voice at the other end of the line and this person…”
Gonzalez: “Who was that person?”
Yasay: “He did not identify himself to me, Your Honor, but when the call was made, he said very foul language. If I may be allowed at this point in time to quote verbatim, Your Honor, the caller said, ‘Putang ina mo! Masuwerte ka na Pangulo na siya ngayon, kung hindi, pupulutin ka na sa kangkungan!’ (Son of a bitch! You’re lucky he is president now, otherwise you would now be in the dump!)
“When I arrived home, Your Honor, about 5:30 in the afternoon, we received another call at home, another call from an unidentified caller, and this time he said, ‘Putang ina mo! Mag ingat ka!’ (Son of a bitch! Be warned!)
“Just before six o’clock that evening, Your Honor, Mr. Dante Tan called me up. And Mr. Dante Tan in an angry voice said, ‘Bakit mo naman sinangkot si Presidente doon sa testimony mo sa Senado ngayong hapon?’ (Why did you implicate the President in your testimony at the Senate this afternoon?)
“And I told Mr. Dante Tan, ‘Mr. Dante Tan, wala akong magawa, I was under oath, napipilitan lang akong magsabi ng katotohanan.’ (Mr. Dante Tan, there was nothing I could do, I was under oath and therefore obliged to tell the truth.)
“And then, Mr. Dante Tan replied to me, ‘Pero iyong tanong naman ni Senator Roco sa iyo hindi naman dapat ganoon ang sagot mo. Bakit ganoon ang sagot mo?’ (But the questions Senator Roco asked you could have been answered differently. Why were your answers like that?)
“If you look at the tapes, the transcript of the tape of the Senate Committee insofar as the questions of Senator Roco at that time of the 19th of January, you will see, true enough, Mr. Roco did not ask me specific questions that would evoke the kind of answer that I gave him during that time. But this was precisely my way of trying to avoid the Memorandum Order which the President issued on November 17 of 1999 where I felt that I could not violate it because of what I was told was the propensity of the President to do harm if I would disobey his orders. So I only made sure that my statements with respect to what he called me about will only be said in an atmos-phere where I had the legal compulsion to say it.
“And then Mr. Dante Tan told me, ‘Hindi puwede iyan. Mas galit na galit si Pangulo sa iyo. Kaya baguhin mo iyang statement mo, baguhin mo iyan.’ (That’s not acceptable. The president is now much madder at you. You must re-tract your statement. Change it!)
“And so, that evening when I was called upon to attend that interview, I had to make those state-ments that I did.
“But, Your Honor, this only happened for a few days because shortly thereafter, when Senator Roco reconvened or resumed the hearing at the Senate Committee at that time, he asked me, ‘On the basis of what you’ve said insofar as media reports, are you going to change your statements here at the Senate today that you made at the last hearing?’ And I told him ‘No, Your Honor, the statements I made at the last hearing were the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and I will not change it, Your Honor.”
Gonzalez: “That will be all, Your Honor.”
Daza: “Recross, Mr. Chief Justice.
“From January 19, 2000 to now, which is January 15, 2001, it’s been almost a year. My question to you is this: Did you at any time, especially during that subsequent hearing of the Senate Committee on Banks, divulge these allegedly threatening calls that you had which you claimed prompted you to make contradictory statements in three interviews that were public, that were being heard by the people? Did you in particular — my question is: Did you or did you not in that subsequent hearing?”
Yasay: “I did not, Your Honor, because the senators who were there did not ask me that question. I was only asked the question whether or not I will change my statement, in the light of the previous statements I made not under oath in media. And I told the senator, ‘No, I am not going to change my statement because what I said there was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and I said it under oath, Your Honor.”
Daza: “No further questions.”
More questions from Senator-Judges sounded like they were intended to make sure nobody forgot the gist of Yasay’s testimony: Erap intervened to save a friend.
Roco: “On November 17, according to you, he called again. Did he ever say it was because he was worried about the economy or because he was worried about his friend?”
Yasay: “He did not say anything about his worry about the economy, Your Honor.”
Roco: “What did he say?”
Yasay: “He told me, specifically on the third call, Your Honor, if I have to quote it again, trying to be faithful to what the President said in his own language, he said: ‘Kumusta na ‘yong imbestigasyon n’yo sa BW?’ (How is the BW investigation going along?) And I told him that, ‘Iyong imbestigasyon namin ngayon ay inihinto namin dahil tapos na ‘yong objective ng aming imbestigasyon. Pero ‘yong imbestigasyon with respect to sino ang may kasalanan kung may manipulation or insider trading, ay ginagawa na po iyan ng Philippine Stock Exchange.’ (We have completed our investigation. But the investigation with respect to who is guilty of manipulation or insider trading is being conducted by the Philippine Stock Exchange and is still on-going.) Galit na galit siya sa akin sa tono ng kanyang boses at sinabi niya sa akin, ‘Sinabi ko na sa iyo, bilisan ninyo ‘yang imbestigasyon and clear Dante Tan.’ (From the tone of his voice I could sense that he was livid, and he told me ‘I already told you to expedite that investigation and clear Dante Tan.’) Tapos sabi niya, ‘Sino bang tatawagan ko sa Philippine Stock Exchange?’ (Then he said ‘Who should I call at the Philippine Stock Exchange?) So ang sagot ko sa kanya, ‘Eh, kung gusto mo, tawagan ninyo si Mr. Yulo. Siya ang presidente ng Philippine Stock Exchange.’ (I replied, ‘If you wish, you can call Mr. Yulo. He is the president of Philippine Stock Exchange.)
From Senator-Judge Juan Flavier’s questioning, observers could also surmise that Erap said one thing to one person and said another thing to another person.
Flavier: “Naalala ko, Mr. Yasay, na sinabi ni Presidente na si Dante Tan ang kakausap sa inyo bilang tagapamagitan tungkol sa problema ng BW. Tama ba iyong pagkarinig ko noong last week’s hearing?” (I recall, Mr. Yasay, that you said the President told you that Dante Tan would act as your go-between on all matters concerning the BW problem. Am I correct of what I heard from last week’s hearing?)
Yasay: “Ang sinabi ko po at last week’s hearing ay, inutos po ni Pangulong Estrada na kung mayroong isang—kung may mga bagay na gusto niyang ipapagawa sa akin tungkol … na relating to my job as Chairman ng SEC o tungkol sa SEC ay ipapadaan niya po kay Mr. Jaime Dichaves. Hindi ho Dante Tan ang binanggit niya.” (What I said last week, President Estrada told me that if there is anything he wants me to do as SEC Chairman, the orders would go through Mr. Jaime Dichaves. He did not mention Dante Tan.)
Flavier: “I see. Eh, nangyari ba iyon na kinausap ka ni Jaime Dichaves?” (So did it ever happen that Jaime Dichaves talked to you?)
Yasay: “Sa pagkakaalala ko, Your Honor, nangyari iyan ng dalawang beses.” (From what I recall … happened twice.)
Flavier: “At ano naman ang (And then what)—whose interest was purportedly represented? Was this problem of the President, problem of Dichaves or a third party?”
Yasay: “Iyong una, Your Honor, ay tinawagan ako ni Mr. Dichaves tungkol sa isang problema ng isang tao. Iyong tao po ay tinawagan ako (The first instance … Mr. Dichaves called me up to inform me about somebody’s problem. This somebody called me) much earlier, I think this happened sometime in July or August of 1999, and this person’s name is Mr. Bobby Ongpin. Tinawagan po ako ni Mr. Bobby Ongpin at sinabi po ni Mr. Bobby Ongpin sa akin, ‘Sabi ni Pangulong Estrada, tatawagan raw kita dahil tulungan mo raw ako sa problema ko.’ (Mr. Bobby Ongpin called me up and he told me ‘President Estrada advised me to call you because he said you can help me fix my problem.’) At that time, Your Honor, sinabi rin ni Bobby Ongpin sa akin, tatawag daw si Pangulong Estrada (Bobby Ongpin also told me that I can expect a call from President Estrada) to confirm what Mr. Bobby Ongpin had said.
“True enough, Your Honor, tumawag si Jaime Dichaves sa akin at sinabi ni Jaime Dichaves sa akin na tatawag daw si Pangulong Estrada sa akin tungkol sa bagay na ‘yon. (Jaime Dichaves called me and he told me that President Estrada will also be ringing me up on that problem.)
“And at 5:30 in the afternoon po, tinawagan ako ni Presidente at sinabi ko kay Presidente, ‘Sinabi ho ni Bobby Ongpin ay tutulungan ko raw siya dahil ‘yon daw ang utos mo sa akin.’ (the President called me up and I told the President, ‘Bobby Ongpin told me that I should help him because that’s what you wanted.’)
“Ang sagot po ni Pangulo sa akin, ‘Huwag mong tulungan ‘yan, patagalin mo ‘yong kaso niyan at i dribble mo na lang.’ ‘Yon po ang unang sinabi ni Pangulo sa akin na pinadaan niya kay Jaime Dichaves as a first instance, pero tumawag si Pangulo sa akin after that. (The President replied ‘Don’t help him [Ongpin’s], stall his case and dribble it.’ That’s what the President told me, the message being conveyed first through Jaime Dichaves and later by the President himself.)
“Yong pangalawa po ay nangyari ito noong (The second call happened in) December of 1999, around the first week of December, na tumawag uli si Jaime Dichaves sa akin at sinabi ni Jaime Dichaves sa akin na mayroon daw TRO ex parte na (that Jaime Dichaves called again and Jaime Dichaves told me about the existence of ex parte TRO) application na kailangan hindi ko raw aksiyonan ay itong TRO (and that I must not act on the TRO which) had something to do with PLDT po, at ‘yon daw ang utos ni Pangulo sa akin (and that this is upon orders of the President.)
“The next day, sinabi ni Jaime Dichaves sa akin na tatawag daw si Pangulo sa akin (Jaime Dichaves told me that the President will call me) on that day. True enough po, tumawag si Pangulong Estrada sa akin (President Estrada called me) on that day, but he called me at 7 o’clock already in the evening at ang tawag niya sa akin ay doon na sa bahay ko. At sinabi ni Pangulong Estrada, huwag ko raw i grant ‘yong TRO na hinihingi ng minority stockholders (and I was already in my house when the called me. And Presi-dent Estrada told me that I should not grant the TRO being sought by the minority stockholders) doon sa PLDT dahil daw po ay may commitment siya sa mga (of PLDT because he already made commitments to) foreign investors.”
Flavier: “Salamat (Thank you). According to Mr. Almadro and Yulo, the President made a statement to the effect that naayos ka na ni Tan (Tan had fixed you), with the fingers forming a circle. What can you say about this statement?”
Yasay: “Sa palagay ko po, ‘yong sinabi ni Pangulong Estrada na naayos na ako (I guess when President Estrada said something about my having been fixed), he made reference to that with one occasion na Dante Tan attempted to bribe me po. This happened sometime in the early part of October of 1999 na kinausap ako ni Dante Tan at sinabi ni Dante Tan sa akin, ‘Mayroon na kaming itinabi na 350,000 shares sa iyo tungkol sa BW. Pirmahan mo na lang itong mga dokumento na ito at pirmahan mo itong signature cards na ito para naman kung gusto mong ibenta ‘yong shares of stock na ‘yan ay malaman ng broker na sa iyo nga ‘yan at saka mabenta mo at makukuha mo ‘yong proceeds’ (that Dante Tan talked to me and Dante Tan told me that ‘we have set aside 350,000 BW shares for you. Just sign the documents and the signature cards so that in case you want to sell the shares the broker would know that they are yours and you can collect the proceeds’).
“I had to politely decline that offer of Dante Tan, Your Honor.”
Flavier: “Sinabi rin ni President Estrada na kung ikaw daw ay magsinungaling ay tatamaan ka ng kidlat. Ikaw ba ay tinamaan na ng kidlat?” (President also told you that if you were lying you would be hit by lightning? Have you been hit by lightning?)
Yasay: “Alam ninyo po, ang sinabi naman ni Pangulong Estrada sa akin, na ‘yong nagsisinu-ngaling ay tatamaan ng kidlat. (You know, what President Estrada said was that whoever was lying will be hit by lightning.)
So, I only prayed at that time, Your Honor, na sana hindi tatamaan si Pangulo ng kidlat” (that he will not be hit by lightning).
Yasay’s day in court, grueling as it was, had its light moments too. It happened when Tito Guingona asked questions. Excerpts:
Guingona: “At iyan sinabi mo na tinawagan ka, nagtestigo ka (And you said that you were contacted by phone, you testified) under oath, in the investigation of the Committee on Banks. Totoo ba iyan?” (Is it the truth?)
Yasay: “Tama po iyon.” (That’s correct.)
Guingona: “Under oath?”
Yasay: “Under oath po.”
Guingona: “Ngayon, nagtetestigo ka naman (Now, you are again testifying) under oath?”
Yasay: “Tama po iyon.” (That’s correct.)
Guingona: “Okay. Si Bubby Dacer ba, eh, kailan iyong panghuling communication ninyo ni Bubby Dacer?” (About Bubby Dacer, when was the last time you communicated with Bubby Dacer?)
Daza: “Mr. Chief Justice, I would raise rigorous objection to the question of the distinguished Senator Judge.”
Guingona: “Mr. Chief Justice, Bubby Dacer was a PR of BW Resources. BW Resources is under investigation, as a shoot off…”
Davide: “What was the first statement of yours? What was Bubby Dacer to…”
Guingona: “Yes, he was the PR man of BW Resources.”
Daza: “There’s no evidence presented to show that.”
Guingona: “No, that was already…”
Davide: “The objection has to be sustained.”
Guingona: “No, Mr. Chief Justice, I ask for a reconsideration because that was already asked. As a matter of fact, admitted by the witness.”
Davide: “The ruling before was there was an unreasonable objection.”
Guingona: “But Bubby Dacer, Mr. …”
Davide: “Yes, there is a motion to reconsider, the motion is submitted to the body under the Rules.”
Guingona: “Mr. Chief Justice, we are investigating the BW Resources. I do not wish to ask for reconsi-deration because … at this stage. But I would like to just appeal to the good reason of the Chief Justice because what is being investigated is the interven-tion of the President regarding the BW Resources.”
Davide: “That is correct.”
Guingona: “Mr. Dacer was a vital public relations man of the BW Resources. There has been evidence and answers given in connection with Bubby Dacer. All I want was what is the last communication between them before he disappeared several weeks ago.”
Davide: “Since there is a motion to reconsider, the motion is submitted to the body.
“Anyone seconding the motion? Under the Rules, a contra is allowed.”
Enrile: “I will second the motion and support the ruling of the Chair.”
Guingona: “Thank you for supporting me.”
Enrile: “No, no, no. I … (Laughter.) I am supporting the ruling of the Chair.”
Guingona: “Oh, Mr. … Well …”
Enrile: “May I …”
Davide: “Honorable Senator Judge Drilon for a while, with the permission of the two gentlemen.”
Enrile: “Mr. Chief Justice, may I request the audience to consider this Court as a court. Evidently, they come here to see a comedy. This is not the place to see a comedy. Please go to the movies if you want to see a comedy.”
Day 23 (When Bank Records Hide)
This day, 16th of January 2001, was the longest session of the trial. Also nobody could probably have expected that this would be the last, the 23rd session day of the trial that started on 7 December 2000.
Jun Davide, the Presiding Officer, opened the day’s trial by informing the Senator-Judges that they need to act on two pending motions.
One was whether the opening of the second envelope would be allowed or not. The Defense had earlier objected to Prosecu-tion’s attempt to open the envelope in open court.
The second motion also pertained to the objection by the Defense to “the request for the issuance of subpoenas duces tecum to different banks involving the following accounts allegedly made by the parties to be enumerated—the alleged accounts of Laarni Enriquez, Guia Gomez, Joyce Melendrez; the accounts of one Kevin Garcia; the accounts alleged to be in the name of Jose Velarde; certain accounts without names of depositors; and, finally, accounts alleged to be in the name of the Respondent and/or Mrs. Luisa Ejercito, whether singly or jointly.”
Davide gave both the Prosecution and the Defense 15 minutes each to present oral arguments for or against the twin motions. But before the presentation of oral argu-ments, the court heard the testimony of Oswaldo Santos, the Prosecution’s witness for the day.
Santos testified that he investigated the whereabouts of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation. He said he came out with the conclusion that the Foundation did not hold office in the address its incorporation docu-ments said it was holding office.
Also earlier, before Santos’ testimony, the Defense agreed to the motion by the Prosecution that Anton Prieto, who earlier was presented as a witness for the prosecu-tion, be withdrawn and his testimony stricken off the records.
Then came the fireworks on the motion by the Defense to prevent the Prosecution from opening the second envelope submitted by the Equitable-PCI Bank pursuant to a subpoena issued by the court.
Davide first called the Defense, as movant, to present its oral arguments. Mendoza argued for the Defense.
“All of these issues,” Mendoza opened his statement, “we are to deal with this after-noon, Your Honors, involve the jurisdiction of the Senate to try and decide alleged acts of the Respondent, not alleged in the Articles of Impeachment. There are subsidiary issues with respect to certain accounts because they are not in the name of the Respondent. I will deal with them at the end of my arguments.”
On the whole the Mendoza arguments were aimed at convincing the court that the evidences being offered by the Prosecution could not be admitted because the alleged crimes they sought to prove were not part of the charges against Erap brought by the House of Representatives to the Senate for trial. These evidences, as the Defense often objected, were “immaterial and irrelevant.” One may also note that the Defense has introduced another concept—the notion of “jurisdiction.”
“Records show,” Mendoza went on, “that he and his wife and mistresses and their children have other interests in other companies outside of the three firms listed in his statement of assets Annex C hereof.…So, what is alleged as a factual basis of the assertion that the President violated his sworn statement by committing perjury and the offense of unexplained wealth, incidentally, there is no such offense, as he simply limited to the failure to state in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities other, that is, ‘other interests in other companies outside of the three firms listed in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities.’ As I said, insofar as the cash assets, there is nothing whatsoever here.
“Now, it will be noted, if Your Honors please, in Annex ‘C’. Annex ‘C’ is a comprehensive list of corporations in which the Respondent is supposed to have other interests which… interests, rather, which he did not declare in his statement of assets. All in all, these corporations numbered 88 corpora-tions. Some Table II of the President, Table III, Guia Gomez; Table IV, Laarni Enriquez; Table V, Joseph Victor Ejercito; Table VI, selected companies of Estrada and his families.
“So insofar as corporate interests, if Your Honors please, what need to be determined is whether in the case of the second envelope, St. Peter’s Holdings is listed… is among these corporations listed in Annex “C”.
“As far as the second envelope is concerned, if Your Honors please, we may deduce from the application that the intention is to establish that the check which was supposed to have funded the payment for what we call the Boracay mansion, purchased by St. Peter’s Holdings, was funded ultimately from Savings Account No. 016062501-5, and that is why what is sought now to be produced is the Statement of Account for October 1 to 31, 1999.
“It may be recalled, if Your Honors please, that when on December 15, December 20, the first envelope was opened, it was found that in that envelope there were the applications to open accounts, specimen signatures, et cetera, of Account No. 11025494-5, as well as microfilm copy of Equitable Bank check number. Those were what were in the first envelope.
“Now, what is now sought to be produced is the statement of account of a savings account, which we assumed, the Prosecution contends, will show that the check which was used to fund the price for the payment of, what we call, the Boracay mansion in the name of St. Peter’s Holdings was funded from this statement—from this savings account.
“So, in effect, what is now asserted is to prove that the President was the one who acquired the Boracay mansion through St. Peter’s Holdings. But as we have stated, St. Peter’s Holdings is not among the corporations listed in Annex ‘C’.
“There is one other flaw, if Your Honors please. After the first envelope was opened—which should have been the premise, assuming my assumptions are correct in regard to the second envelope—not any of the documents in the first envelope was marked as an exhibit. So that if the papers in the first envelope are the predicates for the opening of the second envelope, that predicate does not exist because the papers which were found in the second envelope have not been marked as exhibits, much less established as belonging to the President.
“These issues we raised, if Your Honors please, go beyond the issue of relevancy. They go to the issue of jurisdiction. Whether the jurisdiction of the Senate to try and decide this case goes beyond—can go beyond the specific factual allegations of the Articles of Impeachment, it is our submission that the Senate is without jurisdiction to try and decide any acquisition based on any act other than those which are specifically alleged in the Articles of Impeachment.
“As to the other subpoenas, if Your Honors please, there are accounts even far remote from the account supposedly related to the acquisition of a property by St. Peter’s Holdings. They involve cash assets or their equivalent. Well, perhaps, as far as the accounts of President—in the name of President Estrada and the First Lady, assuming that cash assets are contemplated, are covered by the Articles of Impeachment, we may say they are within the jurisdiction of the Court. But you have other accounts which are the subject of subpoena duces tecum. Some of the subpoenas apply for subpoena duces tecum to be directed to account numbers without any name. How can the relevancy, the fact that these are covered by the Articles of Impeach-ment, be determined on the basis of the application?
“Similarly, you have this Kevin Garcia, Jose Velarde and other names, which are not in the names of the President, and not even in the names of Laarni, Guia Gomez. They cannot be presumptively—they cannot be deemed as presumptively belonging to the Respondent.
“There is other one noteworthy, if Your Honors please, regarding these applications for subpoena. It will be recalled that it was agreed among the parties that when a subpoena duces tecum is applied for, the particular check, if it be a check, which would show the relevancy of the application would be indicated and that beyond that, there cannot be comprehensive or catch-all phrase to cover all documents and records in that account. These applications for subpoena duces tecum have sought to circumvent the agreement that there should be no comprehensive clause in subpoena duces tecum addressed to banks. What the Prose-cution has done is to list everything that one may find in a bank account or ledgers or accounts except that instead of saying all ledgers, all accounts, they have now specified these one by one. That is why, if Your Honors please, the applications for a subpoena duces tecum have enumerations of documents covering about two pages in single space of documents.
“As a matter of fact, if Your Honors please, in the case of the second envelope, assuming that that is within the jurisdiction of the Senate, the subpoena duces tecum should be limited only to what is necessary to determine whether the check that was drawn on the current account was funded from the savings account. It would be inappropriate, even assuming that purpose, to expose the entire statement of account for that month, much less any other document pertaining to that savings account. As a matter of fact, assuming that the Court does not sustain us on the jurisdiction issue and that the Prosecution’s desire is simply to establish that the check was funded from that savings account, we would be willing to stipulate on that assuming that that is the purpose.
“So, then, if Your Honors please, the issue is not really that complicated, but it is an issue which we have raised many times in this trial. Unfortunately, there has really been no definitive ruling on this. Perhaps it is time that a ruling be made because what has happened really, when the first envelope was opened, we raised that issue. But then the whole—the documents had already been exposed, and so we said, since the matter has been made practically public, we agreed not to pursue our motion for reconsideration but reserving our right to object on the matter of materiality or jurisdiction. Similarly, when the Clarissa Ocampo testimony was made, we likewise objected, but the testimony was allowed to be given, although conditionally given.
“So, the issue before the Court, if Your Honors please, is simply whether the Articles of Impeach-ment contain any allegation of fact to show that the act, the alleged act of the President in having cash assets or interest in corporations other than those listed in Annex ‘C’ are sufficiently alleged in the Articles of Impeachment so that the Senate would have jurisdiction to try and decide them.
“I recall, if Your Honors please, that when Senator-Judge Revilla was propounding questions to the witness, to the PAGCOR witness, he said, ‘Kaya tayo nandidito ngayon, eh, alam nating lahat, dahil lang kay Chavit Singson. Kung wala iyong si Chavit Singson, wala tayo rito ngayon, eh. Sapagkat ganoon po nag-umpisa itong asuntong ito, eh. Iyong reklamo ni Chavit Singson, puro po Chavit Singson iyon, eh.’ (We all know that the reason why we are all here, it’s merely because of Chavit Singson. If there was no Chavit Singson, we will not be here. Because that was how this case started. That gripe by Chavit Singson, all because of Chavit Singson.)”
When the turn for Senator-Judges to ask questions came, some tended to favor Men-doza’s views, others raised doubts.
Questions by Enrile, Roco, Cayetano, Drilon and Pimentel were examples.
Enrile wanted the Defense lawyer to empha-size that the Prosecution cannot introduce any evidence the later might have taken fancy on. He asked: “If Article 2 of this Articles of Impeachment simply alleged: ‘The President should be impeached because (1) he violated the Constitution and he stands guilty of graft and corruption; (2) that he violated the Anti-Graft Law; and that he committed perjury and is guilty of the offense of an unexplained wealth,’ would that be a sufficient statement of ultimate facts to warrant the introduction of evidence to prove these allegations, assuming that these are the ultimate facts alleged in this Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment?”
Mendoza: “These are the only ultimate facts—”
Mendoza: “–and it will be arguable whether these constitute either graft or corruption as contem-plated by the Constitution. I would assume that not every graft and corruption is contemplated by the Constitution as an impeachable offense. And whether or not also perjury, which is not among the crimes listed in the Constitution, may be considered a high crime.”
Roco disagreed with Mendoza on the interpretation of the law.
Roco: “… And Section 13 speaks — prohibits the President during his tenure from directly or indi-rectly practicing any profession, or participating in any business, or any special privilege granted by the government, et cetera. Now, would not these charges be read in the context of the Constitution?”
Mendoza: “But the focus of my entire argument, if your Honor please,—”
Mendoza: “—is not so much on the statement or the conclusion, but the statement of facts. Because what we are discussing really is whether having allegedly—allegedly having certain cash deposits in banks or having allegedly interest in St. Peter’s Holdings, not among those alleged in Article 2, falls within the jurisdiction of the Senate to try and decide and then, ultimately, to convict or acquit the President. That is simply the issue.
“Whether those may fall under other provisions of the Constitution, that is not the question. The ques-tion is whether… we are now dealing on whether subpoena duces tecum may be issued as regards certain bank accounts.”
Roco: “That is how you read it, but under the piece of paper …”
Mendoza: “That is the issue.”
Roco: “Yes, that is how you read it, but that is not how others may read it. Because Article 2 says that Estrada violated the Constitution. In other words, it is not ‘and.’ It says, ‘Stands guilty of graft and corruption,’ in small letters, not Anti-Graft Law as in the second paragraph, so that the Constitution is always understood to be read in all these pleadings as part of the charges.”
Mendoza: “Well, if your Honor please—but Your Honor does not continue the sentence—this is just like saying, ‘The accused has violated the Revised Penal Code.’”
Roco: “No, the only ….”
Mendoza: “That charge can just be…can evidence of murder, robbery, theft, rape be introduced? That is the issue. When there is an information charging an accused of having committed murder because he killed so and so on such and such a date, that is the only offense that is triable by the Regional Trial Court. And insofar as impeachment cases, it is even more stringent because a Regional Trial Court has general jurisdiction, but a Senate has limited jurisdiction and that limited jurisdiction encom-passes only the Articles of Impeachment which were forwarded to the Senate by the House of Representatives.”
Roco: “We have something more to say about that, but the time does not seem to allow, although I would register an objection because there is no rule and there was no agreement about this two-minute rule as regards arguments with Counsel. Still, the only reason I called attention to ‘violated the Constitution,’ —I did not read the whole parag-raph—is because I’m restricted by the two-minute rule. The fact is that these charges are read, and I read from your text, ‘that President Estrada violated the Constitution.’ And then, it says, ‘And stands guilty of graft and corruption.’ So that that violation of the Constitution could only refer to Section 13 of Article VII which prohibits the President from engaging in business.”
Mendoza: “But there is no period there, Your Honor. You made a full stop where there is no basis for doing that.”
Roco: “No, no, no.”
Cayetano had an issue with the suggestion that the impeachment process be conduc-ted in a manner that was similar to that of a criminal procedure. He remarked that “…the Defense has, from the very beginning, I note, proceeded from the theory that the impeachment is a criminal proceeding.”
Mendoza: “No, Sir.”
Cayetano: “And that is why…Yes. In fact, I heard no less than my good friend, Chief Justice Narvasa, argue that this is in the nature of a criminal proceeding.
“The point is, if indeed this were a criminal proceeding, I would agree with my professor that we should apply the strict rules of evidence. But I think there is no precedent. Can you cite any precedent that an impeachment proceeding is criminal in nature?”
Mendoza: “The proposition I submit would apply whether the proceedings are criminal, civil, political, whatever you may say. The proposition I submit is premised on the constitutional provision which provides that the House of Representatives has the exclusive power to impeach, and the Senate has the sole power to try and decide the Articles of Impeachment forwarded by the House of Represen-tatives. That is the premise. And we need not decide, it need not be decided whether the proceedings are criminal, whether they are civil. The fact is that the position of the Defense is predicated on the Constitution. It is jurisdictional. It is not a question of relevancy anymore. It is a matter of jurisdiction.”
Cayetano: “Yes. In fact, I was wondering why you raised that because as the sole arbiter of the impeachment, the Senate has jurisdiction for as long as the impeachment complaint is just.
“Anyway, the point is….that is why we have the Senate Rules which say that rules on Procedure and Evidence should be liberally construed, because we consider this as a political process and not as a criminal proceeding. And that is why, I was won-dering, Mr. Professor, if we follow our Senate Rules on Impeachment, that Rules of Evidence should be liberally construed, I am saying, at least, as a proposition.”
Drilon doubted if Mendoza’s statement of facts and analysis were adding up. Some of his questions below:
Drilon: “Atty. Mendoza, in your opposition to the opening of the second envelope, you expressly stated that you are opposing the opening of the second envelope for the indicated purpose of retrieving or obtaining the statement of account for S/A No. 016062501-5. Is that correct?”
Mendoza: “If you are reading from it, it must be correct. I don’t have it on hand, Your Honor.”
Drilon: “Yes, I am reading. Now, is it not a fact that S/A No. 016062501-5 is owned by President Joseph Ejercito Estrada?”
Mendoza: “No, Sir. There is no such evidence.”
Drilon: “May I ask Atty. Mendoza to read page 56 of the transcript of stenographic notes dated January 2, 2001, as testified to by Ms. Clarissa Ocampo.”
Mendoza: “I do not have the transcript. But, if Your Honor please, as far as I can recall the testimony of Mrs. Ocampo, she said that the signature card for the Trust account was signed by President Estrada. She did not refer at all to savings account number whatever.”
Drilon: “Exhibit ‘XXX’, Your Honor, says: ‘This is to authorize you to debit my Savings/Current Account No. 016062501-5 maintained with your branch in the amount of P500 M and credit my Trust Account No. 10178056 representing my initial contribution. Signed Jose Velarde,’ and this was testified to by Clarissa Ocampo as having been signed by the President in her presence. Is this not proof that the President owns, in fact, S/A No. 016062501-5?”
Mendoza: “Perhaps, I may grant that it is proof. But it does not necessarily establish that the account belongs to President Estrada, and it does not necessarily negate the basic proposition that I have submitted to the Senate that these cash assets are not covered by the Articles of Impeachment. In fact, if Your Honor please, as far as the jurisdictional argument I have submitted, I am assuming that these may be considered account of the President. But assuming that they are, they are not covered by the Articles of Impeachment.
“As I said, there is no direct evidence on that savings account. As a matter of fact, when the first envelope was opened, the signature cards were there. But the Prosecution did not even mark as exhibits the basic documents insofar as the St. Peter’s Holdings account is concerned. They did not mark that. That would have been the more relevant evidence to link the President to this savings account. But as far as that is concerned, there is no evidence whatsoever.”
Drilon: “Couldn’t the Prosecution now mark that in evidence?”
Mendoza: “If Your Honor please, at this stage, we are acting on the basis of the facts before the Court.”
Drilon: “Now, do you recall if the signature cards of the first envelope contain a referral to Savings Account No. 016062501-5?”
Mendoza: “I do not recall. I do not think the signature card makes a referral to savings–I really don’t know, Your Honor. I cannot remember. Because they were not marked as exhibits, we did not get copies of those, and we really did not pay close attention to those documents anymore.”
Drilon: “Now, already marked in evidence are the Statements of Assets and Liabilities of the President for the periods ending December 31, 1998 and December 31, 1999. In those two documents, his cash in bank did not at all reach P500 M. That is of record.”
Mendoza: “Whatever it is, it is not alleged that he did not declare in his Statements of Assets and Liabilities that he had cash assets beyond that.”
Guingona showed observers why lawyers made a living out of words and how they were used.
Guingona: “Is it not a fact that the Articles of Impeachment alleges violation of the anti-graft law that he as the President is sworn to uphold?”
Mendoza: “The Articles of Impeachment alleges violation of the anti-graft law. That is a conclusion of law.”
Mendoza: “And then it follows to state the facts upon which that alleged violation was committed.”
Guingona: “Yes. But in the Preliminary Conference, it was agreed that the basis of this would be the law itself.”
Mendoza: “No, Sir.”
Mendoza: “May I read the Preliminary Conference paper?”
Guingona: “As a matter of fact, there was an argument as to whether there was bribery in what sense? And it was agreed in that conference that the basis of the charges would be the facts charged in the law itself. And this law, anti-graft law, Section 8, specifically charges that if an incumbent public official is shown to have amassed incomes dispro-portionate to his legitimate source of income and other lawful sources, then he is subject to suspension or dismissal, and this does not qualify or is limited to certain corporations alone. Unexplained wealth is unexplained wealth, where the Prosecution has the opportunity of showing what the law says.
“And so, therefore, Atty. Mendoza, is it not a fact that as long the Prosecution can establish that there is unexplained wealth even outside of the corporations which you claim to be limited or restrictive, then the Prosecution is within its rights?”
Mendoza: “First of all, if Your Honors please, may I refer again to the Preliminary Conference Order. This is stated very clearly as follows:
“Article 2. Whether on the basis of the facts alleged, not on the basis of the conclusions alleged, on the basis of facts alleged therein, the President could be guilty of graft and corruption.
“Second, as far as the unexplained wealth part of the question is concerned, the Articles of Impeachment says: ‘The President by that sworn statement also committed perjury and the offense of unexplained wealth.’ But the sentence does not end there. It says, ‘because records show that he and his wife and mistresses,’ et cetera. What follows are the statement of facts on the basis of which he is being accused of having committed perjury and having unexplained wealth.”
Nene Pimentel tested how liberal Mendoza could go in the interpretation of the impeachment rules. Mendoza said his concern was not what the impeachment rules said, it was what the Constitution said.
Pimentel: “If I’d follow the drift of your argument, it looks like you would like to limit the Prosecution to prove only that the President is probably liable for not stating completely that he, his wife and his children have business interests in only three corporations. Is that correct?”
Mendoza: “If Your Honors please, I am not trying to limit the Prosecution. I am saying the Prosecution is limited by the Articles of Impeachment.”
Pimentel: “As stated, among other things, by No. 3 and No. 4, is that correct, in this handout that you gave us?”
Mendoza: “Yes, Sir. The handout is simply a copy of the Articles of Impeachment.”
Pimentel: “Yes, but precisely because of that, I could sense, I could detect some fallacy in your argument for the reason that precisely in No. 4, the President is being charged that he and his wife and mistresses and their children have other interests in other companies outside of the three firms listed in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities. This to my mind, is a statement of fact.”
Mendoza: “Yes, Sir. But what follows is, there is Annex ‘C’.”
Pimentel: “Correct, correct. But if you limit them to Annex ‘C’, you are effectively precluding their right to prove that outside precisely of the firms that are listed, the children have other interests in other companies.
Mendoza: “I am not trying to preclude the Prose-cution, Your Honor. It is the Articles of Impeachment which precludes the Prosecution from introducing such evidence.”
Pimentel: “Exactly. But this is a part of the Articles of Impeachment.”
Mendoza: “Yes, Sir.”
Pimentel: “And therefore, the Prosecution should have every right to prove that there are other interests of the President and his wife and mistres-ses and children in other companies outside of the firms listed in the Statement of Assets and Liabi-lities.”
Mendoza: “Only those listed in Annex ‘C”.
Pimentel: “Ah, but exactly the wording ‘outside’ means it is not included in the enumeration. Wouldn’t you think so?”
Mendoza: “May I again call attention to the fact that Annex ‘C’ must have been a very deliberate, conscious and exhaustive effort to name the corporations. Because Annex ‘C’ contains the names of 88 corporations.
Pimentel: “All right. And when you talk of ‘other interests,’ couldn’t that, by a broad interpretation of the Rules on Evidence, include cash accounts also?
Mendoza: “No, Sir.”
Pimentel: “Why not?”
Mendoza: “Interests in corporations are equity interests.”
Pimentel: “How about in companies? Couldn’t the word ‘companies’ include banks?”
Mendoza: “No, Sir, because a deposit account is a loan. The relationship between a depositor and the bank is of debtor and creditor.”
Pimentel: “Correct, if you are very strict about the interpretation. But the word ‘interest,’ I would suppose, could include any financial or other interests in any company or other banks.
Mendoza: “I am just invoking the Constitution, Your Honor. I am not being either strict or liberal; I am invoking the Constitution.”
When the court was done with questions related to the oral arguments presented by the Defense, it turned to what the Prose-cution had to say.
Joker Arroyo took the floor. He argued for the opening of the second envelope.
Arroyo: “The President’s Counsel raised the question of jurisdiction. To those experienced in proceedings before the Supreme Court when the issue of jurisdiction is raised, that means that, perhaps, the President would, if the decision is adverse to the President, would take this up to the Supreme Court. We cannot dictate to the Defense the course of action, but I am, I have been alarmed by the constant repetition of jurisdiction. In fact, this is a challenge to the Court’s jurisdiction if the decision is favorable to us.
“This Court is composed of 22 members. Only seven are senators…ah only seven are lawyers. The rest or two-thirds belong to different disciplines but not the law. It is to them that I am addressing this, the position of the Prosecution, because the lawyers in this Court can take care of themselves.
“In 1974, when President Nixon was poised to be charged before the U.S. Senate, the Senate drafted rules precisely in anticipation that in case President Nixon is charged or impeached by the U.S. House, then they are prepared. President Nixon resigned before he was charged and, therefore, there was no use for the Senate Rules.
“Those Senate Rules made in 1974 for President Nixon was the Rules used in the Clinton trial. Why do I mention this? There’s too much complaint about the way the Complaint has been drafted. True, this could have been done better. True, it could have been worded better. The fact is, this was prepared by cause-oriented groups, prepared by non-govern-mental organizations, prepared by trade union people. It was given to the House. The House, constituting about 105 or over the one-third vote, adopted the Impeachment Complaint prepared by outsiders.
“Now, in the Clinton trial, there was Kenneth Starr who gave the U.S. House of Representatives truckloads of evidence against President Clinton. Here was Kenneth Starr who was given special powers, subpoena powers, in fact, investigative powers, beyond even what other courts could exercise. Because of those powers, he built up what he thought a case against President Clinton.
“The job of the U.S. House of Representatives was very simple. It was made for them. The evidence, duly catalogued and indexed, was for the House Judiciary Committee just to look at it. No sweat. Compare that to our position. We had no Kenneth Starr. We had no special counsel. We had only the cause-oriented groups. But once it was adopted by the House, perforce, it had to be transmitted to the Senate. It was transmitted November 13.
“Now, on November 15, the Senate adopted its Rules on Impeachment. In other words, at the time that the Complaint, the Impeachment Complaint was filed, there was no Senate rule that could guide the complainers. Nothing at all. There was no Senate rule. It is like telling, ‘The Constitution says that Congress will promulgate its own Rules on Impeachment.’ The House did and, perforce, we had to do that because we are flooded with complaints against Justices of the Supreme Court, against constitutional officers. None of those prospered but we have to attend to that. But the Senate had never been faced with an impeachment case, so it hurriedly drafted the Senate Rules on Impeachment on November 15.
“How can we complain? How can anyone complain, at least? How can the Defense now egg on the Senate to say, ‘This Complaint is no good’ when at the time that this was prepared, there was no Senate Rules to guide us? Zero.
“Fair play dictates that when a complaint is challenged, it is because we do not go by substan-dard, by some measure. There was no standard to follow. There was no measure to be adopted. We submitted it here.
“Now, November 15. The Impeachment Rule says that the Rules of Court will be suppletory and the Rules of Evidence will be liberally supplied. What did the President’s Counsel do? What they did was, instead of asking for a Bill of Particulars which they could if they thought it vague, was to file a Motion to Quash.
“The President’s Counsel mentioned here Bill of Particulars. He is so right. Why? The Bill of Particulars provide a defendant or rather a plaintiff the remedy when the charges are vague. It reads, Section 1, ‘Before responding to a pleading, a party may move for a definite statement or for a Bill of Particulars of any matter which is not averred with sufficient definiteness or particular clarity to enable him properly to prepare his responsive pleading.’ There was a remedy-the Defense did not take advantage of it. What they wanted was to file a Motion to Quash.
“In fact, the arguments raised by the President’s Counsel today had already been discussed in the Motion to Quash. And in that Motion to Quash, the Senate, acting as Court of Impeachment, denied the Motion to Quash. That settles the whole thing. The same reasons about the allegations in the Complaint–the incompleteness, the inadequacy. That was raised here.
“The Defense Counsel was given 30 minutes to discuss. He used nine minutes, I remember it. Now, how can he complain now about the inadequacy of the Complaint when this has been a settled matter?
“But, the point here, Your Honors please, and this is where we go to the core of the question. The difficulty we have, the Prosecution, is that we have a President who never uses his name. He has a dozen bank accounts but never does he use his name.
“In the opening argument, I said that the President violated every word of his oath except his name. Little did I realize that he violated even his name because he’s ashamed of it. He doesn’t want to use it and I will proceed to explain why.
“We distributed, if Your Honors please, a….
“If Your Honors please, you will notice here, if you look at this, what are we after? We want to open the second envelope which contains Savings Account No. 01606250-51-5. Now, this account, you’ve heard Clarissa Ocampo talk about the P500 M trust account, that is on the left hand side. EA trust account, P500 M.
“Now, in one of the letters which Clarissa Ocampo testified on was a letter of February 4, 2000, which had been marked as Exhibit ‘XXX’ on December 22. It reads:
‘Dear Mrs. Bagsit:
This is to authorize you to debit my savings account, Checking Account No. 01606250-51-5 maintained with your branch in the amount of P500 million and credit my Trust Account No. 19178056-1 represen-ting my initial contribution.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) Jose Velarde’
“If Your Honors please, the P500 M was taken from the savings account and transferred to the trust account. That is why we want it opened because we want to show how the President amassed P3.3 B within a span of one-and-a-half years. That’s the kind of money that he placed in that savings account. And that is the savings account that the President’s lawyers are saying we shouldn’t open.
“But that’s not the end. If you will notice this chart, there is another account, Checking Account No. 00110-25495-4 of P142 M, that is the contro-versial check. This amount of P142 M was also taken from the savings account. If the members of the Court would prefer the Powerpoint at your back, you can just turn your chair and see that the flow is there but the others may want to see this.
“Now, P142 M was taken from the savings account. That is why we want to open this the savings account. We want to open the mystery of this savings account. This P142 M is what the Prosecution claims a check that was issued by Jose Velarde but actually signed by the President giving P142 M to Sel Yulo.
“Now, Sel Yulo, in turn, turned over the amount to St. Peter’s Holding, and after the St. Peter’s Holding, it went on to the purchase of Boracay from the Madrigals.
“Now, Mr. Chief Justice, we have examined the savings account. Five hundred million was debited on February 4 from the savings account and credited to the trust account of P500 M. Also, two entries appear in the savings account which total P142 M debited from the savings account and transferred to the checking account, also two entries total P142 M. In other words, the P142 M taken from the savings account.
“Now, if Your Honors please, the problem is that you have three accounts all in the name of Jose Velarde. The Defense, in fact, says even if they are all the President’s, they are not material. That’s the argument. They are not part of the complaint.
“But that is not the end of the story, Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court. If you see the savings account, we have pending before the Court various requests for subpoena, you see, from the savings account. That savings account is fed by various checks, most of them are paid to cash. Imagine, what was deposited here totaled about P2.16 B. If you notice the P3.3 B, it’s because some other investments went into this. That’s why when the President’s lawyer says that: ‘No. Cash is not investment’…and many went there, in this P3.3-B account.
“Now, who are they? Mark Jimenez placed amounts there. That’s why we want to know. We want to open the account. Because if we open the account, then we can trace it to Mark Jimenez.
“Dante Tan, P300 M placed in that account. Kevin Garcia—we don’t know him, but a total of P180 M was placed there. Jaime Dichaves, who claims this account, but puts money inside here. How? He claims this is his account but yet he puts money in there, P210 M. Lucio Co and others.
“Now, if Your Honors please, this is no joking matter. Where in the world can you see a President of the Philippines not having any account in his name? And we are told not to open it. These accounts–savings accounts had been closed on November 17, 2000, while on November 15, 2000 when the Senate adopted its Senate Rules, the account was closed. Where did it go? It went again to six accounts, not again in the name of the President. But that’s going very far. If we cannot even open these, how can we go further?
“But is it the gravity of this account? Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court:
“On December 22, 2000, in a bench conference, we were asked by the Chief Justice whether we could support the ill-gotten character of the P500 M in trust account. Why? Because the trust account was opened February 4, 2000.
“So, question….And we understand it. How can you say that that is ill-gotten except ‘Yes, you opened the account, but is it ill-gotten?’
“So the Chief Justice tells us: ‘Do you have evidence?’ And we said: ‘Yes.’ And the understand-ding was…Counsel Daza said: ‘Tell us who.’ Then I answered: ‘No, because for security reasons.’
“So the Chief Justice says, ‘Can you sub rosa inform the Senate President?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ So on New Year’s day, I paid a call on the Senate President and showed him exactly the savings account and mentioned to him the names which, in a previous hearing, the Senate President confirmed and conveyed it to the Chief Justice.
“We are engaged in trivialities in an issue of such a damning importance. Sirs, Madams, we don’t have a ‘Kenneth Starr’… Sariling sikap (By ourselves).
“The Prosecution is labeled as weak. That is what the talk shows say. But through hard work, no Kenneth Stars, no subpoena powers, we were able to dig these up. But this is not the end of the story. There are other accounts under, again, different names. But if we cannot even open this savings account, how can we open the other names?
“The President’s Counsel tells us: ‘They give only the account numbers.’ Naturally, because the President gives fictitious names. The President has prostituted and bastardized the banking system. It is almost a roll call of banks and he has accounts all over but not in his name. That is why we are asking for subpoena. If this is granted, we will. But because of the time constraints, we will try to zero in on the savings account to end this once and for all, to demonstrate that we cannot have this President because he does not even respect our banking laws.
“Jose Velarde, Jose Velarde, Jose Velarde. Why does he not put Joseph Ejercito Estrada? Is he ashamed of his name?
“Not only that. Mention was made about the mistresses. We want to demonstrate that starting—that is why we ask for statements starting 1998. Why? Because it will be shown that the balances after June 30, 1998 shot up. Imagine, Laarni’s PSBank, Murphy Branch, from a P3-M balance, it shot up to P63, then to P249. That is millions. Then P100 M.
“You see, Mr. Chief Justice, we have a certification here from the Ombudsman which says that: ‘This is to certify that on the basis of the records of the Office of the Ombudsman no document of divestment has been filed by His Excellency, President Joseph Ejer-cito Estrada, with the Office of the Ombudsman. This certification is issued upon the request of the Hon. Joker P. Arroyo, Representative-Prosecutor in the Impeachment Trial of Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada.’
“Now, what does the Constitution say? The Defense says that we are circumscribed by the Constitution. But look at this. Republic Act 7080, an Act defining and penalizing the crime of plunder, ill-gotten wealth, acquired by him, the public official, directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents or subordinates. Who are these mistresses? They fall squarely under the definition.
“Republic Act 1379, Exceptions: ‘Property unlawfully acquired by the respondent but its ownership is concealed by its being recorded in the name of or held by the respondent’s spouse, ascendants, descendants, relatives or any other person.’ That is why the opening of the mistresses’ accounts are important.
“Republic Act 3019, the third law, Section 8. Prima Facie Evidence of a Dismissal Due to Unexplained Wealth. ‘If in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No. 1379, a public official has been found to have acquired during his incumbency whether in his name or in the name of other persons, et cetera…’ That violates the Anti-Graft law.
“Now, what does the Constitution say? The Constitution says that Section 6, Article VII, ‘The President shall not receive during his tenure any other emolument from the Government or any other source.’
“How did he get the P3.3 billion there in the savings account?
“No. 2. Obligation to Divest – The President shall not, during said term, directly or indirectly practice any profession, practice in any business or be financially interested, et cetera. They shall avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their Office.
“What we would like to point out is that, while the Defense banks on the Constitution, challenges the jurisdiction of this Court, we would say that as we have read…Forget paragraph 1 in the Articles of Impeachment. That will be treated separately. We will have evidence for that.
“Now, paragraph 2, he also violated the Anti-Graft Law he is sworn to uphold.
“Now, Mr. Chief Justice, the Defense counsel made allusions that we are throwing the Revised Penal Code at the President. No, Sir. We are charging him only with one law, a few pages. Not this book. All three interrelated laws on Graft and Corruption.
3) He filed his…When you break this up, Mr. Chief Justice, for those–again, I would ask–who are non-lawyers here, if you break up the charges we have, then it is easy to understand how we are proving our case.
“No. 3. He filed his Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1999, stating therein that he and his wife and children have business interests in only three corporations. That is what he said in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities. He said he had only P35 million in Net Worth, then P6.5 million in the banks and yet he has P3.3 billion here.
“4) The President, by that sworn statement, also committed perjury in the offense of unexplained wealth, because records show that he and his wife and mistresses and their children have other interests in other companies outside of the three firms listed in his Statement of Assets and Liabi-lities.
“Now, Mr. Chief Justice, the Defense makes capital of words in parentheses as if that’s the heart and soul of the entire complaint. That is just illustrative; it’s just to explain. Nothing more. Parenthesized words are not part but they make capital of it and say that is the meat of the entire complaint.
“Please, we beg you to think that if what we are now trying to show fits the bill….”
Senator-Judges lined up, including seldom-heard Ramon Revilla, to raise questions.
John Osmeña: “Mr. Chief Justice. I would like to inquire as a nonlawyer–and I appreciate the lecture –why is it that the honorable Prosecutor Congress-man Joker Arroyo, since he knows so much about the savings account, Account No. 016062501-5…
Arroyo: “That is the savings account.”
- Osmeña: “That is the savings account. That’s basically what is in Envelope No. 2.”
Arroyo: “Yes. That is what we are trying to…”
- Osmeña: “You presume. We all presume. Since you know so much about it, you know that the balance is P3.3 B, you know that Dante Tan deposited P300 M, that Jaime Dichaves deposited P210 M, that Lucio Co deposited–I did not catch the amount–that Mark Jimenez deposited P180 M, since you know so much about it, why don’t you just bring out all your information and why do you want us to open the envelope? You already know everything about it anyway.”
Arroyo: “Because it would be inadmissible. What would be admissible would be that account that we have requested to be subpoenaed. That is the difference.
“If I give you a piece of paper, you can always object. No, no, that’s not admissible. But if I give, for instance, a bank record, testified on by a competent bank official, then that would be admitted. Because if I would give a statement, then, sasabihing (you’ll say), ‘Gawa-gawa mo lang yan (You just made it up).’ That is the difference.
Osmeña: “Somewhere, somehow, obviously not in your dreams, at hindi mo siguro gawa-gawa, somebody must have told you all about these. And so, why don’t you bring your witnesses here, and your evidence here, and bring these out in the open, and that would be admissible? I am not a lawyer. But I guess, we have had so much, so many witnesses here that almost everything is admissible in this Court, anyway.”
Arroyo: “Sir, we ask that, precisely, we ask that the official records of savings account, ending 5, that’s the savings account…we issued a request for subpoena duces tecum which the Court approved. But then the external lawyers of Equitable Bank wrote the Chief Justice a letter saying that ‘It’s already in the second envelope; so, why don’t you just open it?’ In short, instead of presenting the documents we requested for, the bank says, through their lawyers, that ‘it’s already with the Secretary, so you just open it.’ That is why we have asked that it be opened. But then the Defense opposes it. That is why we are here to discuss this.”
- Osmeña: “Well, you know, we have had lessons on evidence and I am sure that if you really know that there is P3.3 billion and if you really know all these bloody details–somebody must have told you–there must be evidence somewhere that you have, and all of these things that you are now telling us should be brought in here, you could also bring the people who are saying that.”
Arroyo: “But just to answer, Mr. Chief Justice, the bank records would be the best evidence. That is all.”
Davide next recognized Enrile.
Enrile: “Mr. Counsel, as a brilliant lawyer, you are quite familiar between the distinction of amending a pleading and a motion for a bill of particulars?”
Arroyo: “I don’t claim brilliance but I understand the difference.”
Enrile: “May a Bill of Particulars correct a matter that ought to be the subject of an amendment pleading?”
Arroyo: “I did not advocate a Bill of Particulars. I only said there is a remedy.”
Enrile: “But now, I am asking you point-blank, as an experienced lawyer, because that is the meat of my question. I’ll come back to the Articles of Impeachment because I think this is the heart of the question.”
Arroyo: “And which is? Can you restate again, Your Honor, the question?”
Enrile: “That you want to correct by a Bill of Particulars a matter that ought to be the subject of an amendment to the pleadings that the House submitted to this Court for trial.”
Arroyo: “The difference between the Bill of Particu-lars, it is… the motion is made by the other party, the amendment is made by the other party, to make it a point.”
Enrile: “Your Honor…”
Arroyo: “Wait, wait. Just a complainant may be ordered to amend the complaint.”
Enrile: “No, Your Honor. Read Rule X. If you do not know it, I’ll read it to you, in relation to Rule XII.”
Arroyo: “Oh, is there a question already?”
Enrile: “I’m asking you, Your Honor. Now if you do not want to answer that question, Your Honor…”
Arroyo: “No, no, no. The question is, could we have amended it? That seemed to be the thrust of the question.”
Arroyo: “Could we have amended it?”
Arroyo: “No, Sir.”
Enrile: “Why not?”
Arroyo: “Because we have adopted it and the House has empowered us to prosecute the case on the basis of that Impeachment Complaint.”
Enrile: “Precisely, because the Constitution, which is the authority for this Senate to hear this case, requires that the complaint or resolution must be verified by the members of the House on the basis of knowledge of facts alleged in the Articles of Impeachment, and, therefore, any facts not alleged in the Articles of Impeachment would not be within the competence of this Senate to try.”
Arroyo: “Sir, I thought we finished that already, that we disposed of that in the Motion to Quash. If the idea is that we are going to rehash this, then I will repeat, I will restate the position of the House of Prosecutors and which is that, as of November 13, when we sent the Impeachment Complaint here, which the House adopted as Articles of Impeachment, the Senate had nothing to guide us.”
Enrile: “The trouble, Mr. Counsel, as far as, from the viewpoint of this Judge’s concern, you are asking this Senate to amend the Articles of Impeachment in order to insert a material allegation that was not inserted in this Articles of Impeachment so that you can introduce the evidence that you now want to introduce.”
Arroyo: “Sir, we need not amend it because we think that it is adequate, imperfect as it is. We don’t say that this is a classic, it’s an example, a model for a pleading. But it can stand by itself.”
Tito Guingona took his turn. “The testimony, Mr. Counsel, which was conditionally admitted, was for the Prosecution to comply with the conditions. Is that correct?”
Arroyo: “Yes, Sir.”
Guingona: “And you can comply with that condition if you are able to show the source of the P500 million which was given as an investment to Wellex Corporation?”
Arroyo: “That is correct. That is in the transcript of December 22nd.”
Guingona: “And, as a matter of fact, there was already evidence that the authority to get the source of P500 M was from that savings account?”
Arroyo: “The Court asked us to complete, to establish the link.”
Guingona: “And if we do not open the envelope and if you are not allowed to comply with the subpoenas, then, in effect, you will be reined in and be able to, in effect, not comply with the condition imposed by the Court.”
Arroyo: “I could not have said it better, Sir.”
Guingona: “Yes. Now, as far as materiality is concerned, can you please cite Rule II there in the diagram which says: ‘In effect…’ Can you please read?”
Arroyo: “He also violated the Anti-Graft Law he is sworn to uphold.”
Guingona: “That is in the Articles of Impeachment.”
Arroyo: “That’s correct.”
Guingona: “Very clear.”
Arroyo: “Very clear.”
Guingona: “And therefore, you are going to present the Statement of Assets and Liabilities mentioned?”
Arroyo: “In fact, we have it here.”
Guingona: “All right. And then—”
Arroyo: “And already marked, premarked.”
Guingona: “Then that allows you to compare it with the savings account that he has for 1999.”
Arroyo: “We can do that, although insofar as the trust account is concerned, we cannot. But the savings account, we can, because the balance in the savings account as of December 31, 1999 show the balance of about P500 M over.”
Guingona: “Okay. Last point. If you say that the Annex ‘C’ is illustrative merely, the Defense, on the other hand, says that it is what is supposed to be limited and restrictive, but, in effect, would they not be saying that the President participated in business and, therefore, impliedly violated the Constitution?”
Arroyo: “That was what I was going to explain, if I had more time because he is forbidden under the Constitution from having any other income.”
Guingona: “And therefore, even if we admit Annex ‘C’, then it would show a violation of the Constitu-tion.”
Arroyo: “For instance—let me answer the question—oh, well, it’s not there anymore, but in the trust account—”
Arroyo: “Could I—I couldn’t answer the last question of—”
Davide: “Were you not able to answer it?”
Arroyo: “Can I answer it, just for the record?”
Davide: “You can answer.”
Arroyo: “Thank you, Your Honor.”
“The trust account testified on by Clarissa Ocampo is not a trust account. It is really, in fact, an agency. The President invested P500 M, a loan, and then managed by the bank, but loaned it to Wellex. So we ask the question: Why is the President engaging in business, P500 M loan to Wellex and for which he earned income? That’s my answer to the question of—that’s my answer to Senator Guingona.”
Davide next recognized Loren Legarda.
Legarda: “Earlier, the Defense Counsel cited the issue of jurisdiction. Would it be correct to say, or would it be your position that this question of jurisdiction has now become moot because this has previously been denied? The Motion to Quash has been denied by the Senate. Is it correct to say that? Could you kindly clarify that?”
Arroyo: “Yes, Ma’am. That was raised—that issue was raised and we read the transcripts. In fact, there was some assertion of jurisdiction during the first hearing. And during, I think, the next hearing. Then there was a question, ‘Are you not going up?’ And the Defense said, ‘No.’
“Now—so to the question of whether that’s been settled, yes, that’s been settled because that has been denied by the Court.
Legarda: “That is so, is now moot?”
Arroyo: “Yes, Ma’am.”
Legarda: “It’s also been cited earlier that in the Articles of Impeachment, Annex ‘C,’ I believe, there were only several corporations or business interests mentioned. And even, I think, in page 9 only Vermont Park was mentioned and nothing was mentioned of Boracay or let me say, St. Peter’s Holdings. But is it not correct to say that although St. Peter’s Holdings was not particularly mentioned in page 9 or in Annex ‘C,’ but the issue here really is not St. Peter’s Holdings, but the manner of acquisition of Boracay mansion by the President, his wife, or possibly mistresses and his family or his children, and that is the issue? And that is clearly within the purview of the Articles of Impeachment. Is that not correct?”
Arroyo: “Yes, that is the position of the Prose-cution.”
Legarda was followed by Frank Drilon.
Drilon: “Congressman Arroyo, a question of jurisdic-tion has been raised based on the alleged non-coverage of this particular issue in the Articles of Impeachment. Is that not correct?”
Arroyo: “That seems to be the case, yes, Sir.”
Drilon: “The same ground was called an issue of materiality before?”
Arroyo: “That’s how I understand it.”
Drilon: “Now, it’s called ‘question of jurisdiction’.”
Arroyo: “Yes, they changed the nomenclature.”
Drilon: “Now, isn’t it a fact that this particular document that you are seeking to open is covered by a subpoena duces tecum ad testificandum?”
Arroyo: “That’s correct, Sir.”
Drilon: “And specifically, the statement of account for Savings Account No. 016062501-5 for October 1-31, 1999 is covered by a subpoena issued on January 10 of the year 2001 by the Chief Justice.”
Arroyo: “Yes, Sir.”
Drilon: “Now, on the question of materiality, do you recall the ruling of this Honorable Court insofar as the timeliness of raising the issue of materiality is concerned?”
Arroyo: “Yes, the Court said that you can when you present the evidence, when you make the offer.”
Drilon: “In other words, questions of materiality at this point, according to the Court in the Extended Order of 18 December 2000, is premature.”
Arroyo: “That’s correct. That’s how I understand the ruling of the Chair.”
Drilon: “Yes. And the objections on materiality can be obtained when these documents are formally offered in evidence?”
Arroyo: “I remember that.”
Drilon: “So that at this point, you are not yet formally offering this in evidence?”
Arroyo: “No. We are just presenting it and we will offer it at a later time. In fact, the objections—I am really surprised, it’s a good thing, Sir, that you mentioned that. We are just asking, we are just requesting for a subpoena duces tecum.
“Ordinarily, we barristers, we go ask for a subpoena duces tecum, the subpoena. Well, the Clerk of Court usually just issues that and there’s not too much hassle over that thing. Why? Because when the trial takes place and we start to present the evidence, that’s when the objection arises. But the objection arises on the materiality of the testimony of the witness.
But here, we’ve not even reached that stage. We’re only asking that the document be produced. But there seems to be a paranoia now on the part of the Defense whenever it comes to the bank accounts of the President. Even before we have started, they say, ‘No.’ How would they know if it is material or not? It may be material for the purposes for which it is offered, but if we make a mistake in the presen-tation, it may be material but not material for the purpose for which we are presenting it. I mean, whether those distinctions can be raised.”
Drilon: “And certainly, that can be raised at the appropriate time after the documents are seen?”
Arroyo: “Of course.”
Drilon: “At this point in time, we do not even know whether these documents are material or not because we’ve not yet seen it?
Arroyo: “We’ve not seen it, except….The Court has not seen it. But I think the Defense, the Prosecution has seen it, that’s why we were trying to—everybody knows this document.”
Drilon: “Except the Court.”
Arroyo: “Except the Court. They have seen this. They have copies. If they’ve seen this, why will they object extraneously to this if they’ve not seen it?
“Now, we have seen it. If we’ve seen it, I’m sure they’ve seen that ahead of us.”
Raul Roco was next. He asked: “Kung susundan po natin ang teoriya ng Defense, pagkasampa ng habla ng Articles of Impeachment, ‘yan ay magiging lisensiya na magnakaw, magtago, kumolekta ng pera. Hindi ho ba?” (If we take the Defense’s theory, the filing of a complaint would become a license for one to steal, hide and amass wealth. Is it not so?)
Arroyo: “I am not very good in Filipino, we’re both Bicolanos. But—”
Roco: “Tama iyon, hindi ba? Because hindi (not) covered sa (by the) allegations. Ninakaw noon, ngayon, pagkahabla, siyempre hindi iyong gagawin naman (Let’s say one committed a crime of theft then, now, after having been sued for theft, he may commit another crime) afterwards, hindi pa (something the suit has not) covered. So, it will no longer be processed to cleanse. The impeachment process will now be a cloak to protect all future violations of the Constitution or violations of law. Tama po ba iyon? (Is this correct?)”
Arroyo: “Tama po iyan. (It is correct.) Because if you don’t open this, then you have a continuing violation—”
Roco: “That’s correct. Now …”
Arroyo: “—by the President, no less.”
Roco: “Can you please explain how an ordinary Senate Committee—Banks, Blue Ribbon, any other ordinary Senate Committee—pag ipinatawag namin, kahit ano iyan, makukuha namin. Pero heto, (once we summon them, we get them. But here, in this) Impeachment Court, pinaka ekstra ordinaryong (a very extra-ordinary) assignment ng Senado, kami lang ang puwedeng maglitis (of the Senate, we have the sole power to try), we are the only ones who can try–I can see the Bicolano in you–we are the only ones who can try, aba, we are prohibited. Can you please explain what is the logic there?
Arroyo: “Sa katotohanan lang, hirap na hirap kami dito. Hirap (Truth be told, we are finding this very, very difficult. It’s hard)—just to get one. They have filed an omnibus opposition to every bank account that we have subpoenaed. All the allegations now, sinasabi nila (they say), ‘That bank accounts are not part of it, they are not assets.’ All of us here, the senators and us, congressmen, we file Statement of Assets and Liabilities. If you see the column ‘Assets,’ it reads here: ‘(a) Real Properties; (b) Personal and Other Properties.’ Listed in (b), Cash on Hand and in Banks. So, those are assets.
Now, separate ang negosyo (business is something else). It is under Letter B.
Arroyo: “Business Interests and Financial Connections. That is where we are saying that the three corporations are the only ones listed. In the Statement of Assets and Liabilities, tatlo po lang ang inilagay nila. Tatlo lang ang inilagay nila (they put there only three). In fact, the wording, I mean, we should not underestimate the ones who framed this impeachment article. They practically copied the wording of the Statement of Assets and Liabilities. Ganoon po iyong ano, kaya hindi naman talagang… Marurunong din iyong mga gumawa. (That’s how it is, it’s not really that … Those who wrote the complaint actually knew what they were doing.)”
Roco: “But the theory turns the law on its head. Binabaliktad lahat. (Everything is turned upside down or reversed.)”
Roco: “Is there a law that prohibits use of fictitious names to hide the crime?”
Arroyo: “Of course. There is a Commonwealth Act, I don’t remember, but it does. Commonwealth Act 142, I was told by my colleagues here, and the Revised Penal Code, Civil Code. So, here is a President who never uses his name when it involves money. How’s that?”
Roco: “And that law prohibited to hide crime is now being used to protect crime, kung hindi natin puwedeng buksan ang envelope. Tama ba iyon? (if we cannot open that envelope. Is it correct?)”
Arroyo: “Very well said, Sir.”
Roco: “Ang galing talaga nitong Bikolanong ito. (This man from Bicol is really good.) Then finally, other interests daw (they say), ordinary English, iba, di ba? Iyong iba pa. (right? Then the rest.) Aba’y other interests daw (they say) restricted to three? Eh, tama ba iyon? (Is it correct?)
Arroyo: “I think, even without being a lawyer, let’s say, an English teacher would be able to say that. When you say in only three corporations, that he has other interests in only three corporations, that means there is a violation when he mentioned only three. Yet the Defense contradicts itself by saying that there are 66 other corporations where the President claims …”
The court went into a break. Trial resumed after 25 minutes. It was now Cayetano’s turn to take the floor.
Cayetano: “Sa pagkakaintindi ko, (In my understanding) Congressman Arroyo, iyong (the), testimony ni (of) Clarissa Ocampo was conditionally admitted, hindi ho ba (right)?”
Arroyo: “Tama po iyan.” (That’s correct.)
Cayetano: “Conditionally, conditioned rather that you should be able to prove, meaning ang (the) Prosecution, na iyong (that) P500 M ay galing sa (comes from) ill-gotten wealth, tama ho ba iyon (is that right)?”
Arroyo: “Tama po iyon.” (That’s correct.)
Cayetano: “So kaya ninyo gustong buksan itong (the reason you want to open this) second envelope ay para ninyo i-prove na iyon ngang (is for you to prove that this) P500 M ay (is) ill-gotten wealth, tama ho ba ito (right)?”
Arroyo: “Tama po.” (Right.)
Cayetano: “Sapagkat kung hindi kayo pagbibigyan ng (Because if you are denied by the) Senate Tribunal ay hindi ninyo matutupad ang inyong obligasyon (you will not be able to meet your obligation) as required by the Presiding Officer to prove the link of the P500 M to be ill-gotten wealth, tama ho ba ito (right)?
Arroyo: “Tama po.” (Right.)
Cayetano: “So kaya ninyo gustong buksan itong pangalawang (for that reason you want the court to open this second) envelope?
Arroyo: “Yes, Sir.”
Cayetano: “Ang sabi ninyo ay ang (You said that the) Defense at saka (and the) Prosecution ay alam na ang detalye sa loob nitong (already know the content of the) second envelope, totoo ho ba iyon (is it true)?”
Arroyo: “Totoo (True), except the Court.”
Cayetano: “Kaya nga para yata kaming kaawa-awa dito?” (Which is why we look like worthless here?)
Arroyo: “Tingin ko nga po pag-aawayan…. We are asking you to open something which we both know.” (That’s how I see it, quarrelling over something…)
Cayetano: “E, tama ho ba iyon lalo na sa ating bayan?” (Is it fair especially for our country?)
Arroyo: “Nasasainyo po iyon (It would be up to you), if you want to share the contents of the P3.3 B.”
Cayetano: “Hindi po. Ang importante ay iyong sinabi kong (No. What’s important is what I said about the) legal obligation on your part to discharge your duty to link the P500 M dito sa (to this) ill-gotten wealth sapagkat iyon ang obligasyon ninyo kaya naging (because that was your obligation and the reason why) conditionally admitted ang testimony ni Clarissa Ocampo. Tama ho ba? (Is this correct?”
Arroyo: “Tama po iyon. Pangako namin iyon, ng Prosecution.” (That’s correct. We—the Prosecution—had that commitment.”
Cayetano: “And if you are not able to prove, matatanggal iyong testimony ni Clarissa Ocampo, hindi ho ba (Clarissa Ocampo’s testimony will be stricken off the records, am I right)?
Arroyo: “That’s correct.”
Cayetano: “Ang inyo bang (Do you share the) theory also na iyong (that) Annex ‘C’, iyong mga korporasyon, (the mention of corporations) is purely illustrative lang (only) in character and not exclusive?
Arroyo: “Mabuti nabanggit mo po iyan. Kung tanggalin mo iyong Annex ‘C,’ wala silang, (It’s good you brought that up. If we do away with Annex ‘C,’ they have nothing) they cannot complain. In fact, if you remove Annex ‘C,’ they’ll have no argument at all.”
Cayetano: “Kaya nga ang sinasabi… (That’s why they say….)”
Arroyo: “The reason kung papaano nakasabit iyong (how it got its way here) Annex ‘C’ na iyan (this one) which has caused us so much problem is simply, that is an illustration, illustrative, for example, parang ganoon (like that), Annex ‘C’. But if you look at the Complaint and remove the Annex ‘C’, this thing is a perfect complaint.”
Cayetano: “Ngayon, alam po ba ninyo na ang (Now, do you know that the) rules on verification ay binago na ng (have been modified by) Supreme Court?”
Arroyo: “Our verification is in accordance with the rules of the House on verification in impeachment complaint. Exactly.”
Cayetano: “Yes, pero (but). Exactly. At hindi ho lang ganoon pero iyong (And not only that but the) rules on verification ng mga (of) pleadings ay binago na rin ng Supreme Court, alam ninyo ho ba iyon (have also been revised by the Supreme Court, do you know that)?
Arroyo: “Yes, we are aware of that, Sir.”
Flavier tried to make the discussions light by saying “Mr. Chief Justice, I am now ready to look at the documents inside Envelope No. 2. Thank you.”
Davide: “That may be done later after a resolution shall have been made, if at all it will be made. The honorable Sen. Sergio Osmeña III.”
Serge Osmeña: “Mr. Counsel, anong ibig sabihin ng (what do we mean by) ‘verification’?”
Arroyo: “ ‘Verification’ is simply that the one who verifies, attests to the truth of the contents.”
Osmeña: “That the complaint is true?”
Arroyo: “Tama po iyon.” (That is correct.)
Osmeña: “Okay. And iyong (that) Complaint ho, iyan ba iyong (is that the) statement of essential facts?
Arroyo: “Correct, in plain language.”
Osmeña: “Ngayon, sa (Now, in a) criminal case, pag hindi po nakasali ho doon sa (if it is not included in the) statement of facts, hindi po puwedeng gamitin sa (that cannot be used in the) trial?
Arroyo: “Oo, kasi anong…. (Yes, because what…) What’s going to be proved?”
Osmeña: “Okay. So in other words, if I accuse somebody of stealing money at sinabi ko, ‘Ayun, may (and I said, ‘Look, there is) P10 M diyan sa bangko na iyan, may (in that bank, there is) P10 M rin diyan, may (there also, and) P10 M rin diyan,’ okay lang iyan. Pagkatapos, (there,’ that would be ok. Then) in the course of the trial, nadiskubre ko may (I discovered there is) P1 B ho rito (here). Hindi magagamit iyong (I cannot use this) P1 B?
Arroyo: “Nadiskubre (Discovered)?”
Osmeña: “Oo (Yes), during the course of the trial, tapos na (done).
Arroyo: “In the course of the….”
Arroyo: “Mukhang hindi.” (Seems you cannot.)
Osmeña: “Hindi (No)?”
Arroyo: “Oo.” (Yes.)
Osmeña: “Hindi (No). Okey. So ano po…. (it’s….)”
Arroyo: “Pero puwede niyang sabihing (but he can say) newly discovered evidence.”
Osmeña: “But in a criminal case, you can always file a new case right away, di ba (can’t you)?”
Arroyo: “That’s correct.”
Osmeña: “All right, but in an impeachment trial, you have to wait for one year?”
Arroyo: “You have to wait for one year, and what we don’t know because there’s no jurisprudence on that is that all those that may not have been charged but existing at the time may not be charged again. That, I don’t know. But the thing is that the Constitution is very clear, and which is, that one year after the filing of the Complaint, the Impeachment Complaint, no complaint can be made again on the same person, on the same….”
Osmeña: “On the same person and on the same matter.”
Arroyo: “Yes, Your Honor.”
Osmeña: “Okay. So in the next impeachment, puwera na iyong (you may do away with) Annex ‘C.’ Nandiyan na ngayon eh. (For now it’s there.)”
Arroyo: “Tama.” (Correct.)
Osmeña: “Okay. Bakit po sinasabi ng (Why is it, says the) attorney for the Defense na hindi daw kasama iyong (that the complaint does not include) cash? Cash was not alleged to have been part of the unexplained wealth.”
Arroyo: “In fact, I’ve been wondering why the Defense insists that cash is not…. Your Honor, you mentioned that cash is not included in….”
Osmeña: “Earlier, the Defense Counsel said that hindi ho kasama iyong (there’s no mention of) cash sa (in the) Complaint. Wala sa (There is none in the) statement of facts. What was alleged in the statement of facts are the real estate property or the equity holdings in those corporations.”
Arroyo: “Well, interests include cash. How do you define ‘cash’? That is interest.”
Osmeña: “That is what I am asking you.”
Arroyo: “Yes, Sir. As a matter of fact, that cash, when they deposited it in the bank and it earns interest, what is that?
Osmeña: “All right. At hindi ba iyong (And is it not that) money is fungible? So what can be real estate today can become BW shares tomorrow, can be converted into loans receivable the day after, et cetera. So hindi dapat i-limit sa (it should not be limited to) type of asset but the totality of the assets. Tama ho ba iyan (Is it correct)?”
Arroyo: “That’s correct.”
Osmeña: “All right. Now, bakit nag-o-object iyong (why is there objection from the) Defense kung itong (if this) account diyan sa (at) Equitable ay (is an) account ni (of) Dichaves? Hindi ba klineym ni Dichaves iyan? (Didn’t Dichaves claim it?)”
Arroyo: “Iyan nga ang nakakataka, eh. (That’s what mystifies.) Now that you said it, can I speak in English because I’ll….”
Arroyo: “This account is very strange. When this checking account was opened, the checking account…. Just for a little while so it will be shown. When we talk about the checking account, when the checking account was opened, here comes Dichaves and says, ‘You cannot because that is mine.’ All right. So he says that is his. Along the way comes Clarissa Ocampo and testifies on the trust account. But after claiming that that is his—in fact, he filed a motion or I think a letter claiming that this checking account is his—may (there’s) Motion to Quash pa (even) on this, meaning, that his rights as the owner of the account is being violated. In short, he claims it. Now comes the trust account.
Osmeña: “Iyong (That) P500 million?”
Arroyo: “Iyong (This) P500 M. All right. Clarissa said that that is the President’s because she saw the President sign it. Then—and this is important—it is a good thing that was mentioned—then comes the cover-up of December 13. Here comes Dichaves now claiming—
“—the December trust account, claiming now that cover-up on December 13. Here comes Dichaves saying that that is his, the trust account, not this one. [Counsel referring to the transparency]. He claimed, Dichaves claimed that this is his in a letter to the Senate President, to the Impeachment Court. But December 13th, as testified by Clarissa, he tried to claim this by substituting the documents making it appear that there is an assignment that that is his.
“So here you have the situation where here is Dichaves claiming this, here is Dichaves claiming that. But when it was foiled by Clarissa because the President himself–meaning President Estrada–did not give an authority to assign it, it went poof. So the trust account remains that of the President. So how can you now trust this Dichaves who did not pursue his claim on the trust account because the President no less did not give any document supporting him and then now he is claiming this? This is the mystery of all these accounts. Jose Velarde being claimed by someone else, but that’s the President’s.
Osmeña: “All right, last question. Clarification. Sinabi po ng (It was mentioned by the) Defense counsel na (that) no predicate was laid because the contents of Envelope No. 1 were not marked as evidence, even conditional evidence. Why did the Prosecution not ask that to be marked?”
Arroyo: “You see, at the time that that was opened, we were not sure about the authenticity of the documents. If you will recall, Private Prosecutor Romy Capulong made a manifestation that he felt that the specimen signature cards were tampered with. At this point… at the time, we were not prepared to accept it yet. But at the moment, tampered or not, we don’t care anymore [who is] owning it. Because, well, it’s there, that’s the only thing we can find anyway. If that was tampered, there’s nothing more that we can do.”
On his turn, Senator-Judge Robert Jaworski asked why the charges were not as detailed as he thought they should be.
Senator-Judge Tessie Aquino-Oreta asked if the Bank Secrecy Law might have been violated by bank employees who supplied the Prosecution the bank records contained in the envelope. Arroyo explained that there was no violation if the information was given in connection with the trial of an impeach-ment case.
Senator-Judge Nikki Coseteng expressed alarm that the way the Prosecution has collected bank records may have triggered capital flight out of the country.
Senator-Judge Ramon Revilla, probably to support the contention by the Defense that evidence could not be introduced unless it was meant to prove the alleged crimes, used the analogy of a suspected illegal drugs user who bucked litigation because the search warrant issued by the court was for illegal possession of firearms.
Senator-Judge Jun Magsaysay asked if the bank account being debated on contained 3.3 billion pesos. When Arroyo told him that it indeed contained that amount—“at its highest point,” Magsaysay said he could not help but be awed by how good a business-man the account owner was.
“In 1998,” Magsaysay said, “PLDT profited only P1 billion with 7,000 employees… So, I’d like to meet Mr. Jose Velarde. He must be a good business-man.”
After Magsaysay, Davide recognized Pong Biazon. He asked the court to turn its eye from Annex ‘C’ to Annex ‘A’:
Biazon: “The Defense is saying, in reference to Annex “C,” that this is not listed in Annex “C” and, therefore, should not be touched.”
Arroyo: “That is the position of the Defense.”
Biazon: “All right. May I point the attention of the Court to Annex ‘A,’ which should be valued in the same level as the Defense is putting value in Annex ‘C,’ specifically, page 2, paragraph 5. And may I read.
“ ‘On or about the first week of August of 1999, President Estrada instructed me’—this is an affidavit of Mr. Singson–‘to transfer the accumulated depo-sits in my account to Yolanda Ricaforte. I complied with his instructions and turned over the accumulated deposits amounting to P130 million to Mrs. Ricaforte, who in turn deposited the same to various accounts in Equitable Bank.’
“Now, Mr. Prosecutor, is this deposit part of that savings account?”
Arroyo: “Well, frankly, Your Honor, this is in Article 2-B.”
Arroyo: “While the Tobacco Excise Fund is Article 2-A.”
Arroyo: “That’s not my department so I did not bother anymore to interconnect this because it’s very cluttered. But one thing is that they are somehow interrelated. The problem is that we have to see the date of deposit; who deposited it; and it’s a process in itself. We’ll see the deposit, who made it, then the account number. Then from there, we trace backwards and it’s rather a difficult process. So, in that respect, we did not try anymore to connect it and then make a….That’s the problem of those who are prosecuting Article 2-A.”
Biazon: “But there is a rule that we can consider evidences for one article for the other?”
Arroyo: “Yes. I think, that has been agreed, yes.”
Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor Santiago: “Mr. Counsel, I invite you to address two points. The first point is the point of the precedent that we are establishing for all future impeachment cases. As you know, our system of law operates on the power of precedent. Our Constitution in the Bill of Rights–that should be Article III, Section 14, paragraph 2–gives to the accused in a criminal case the right to be informed of the nature and the cause of the accusation against him. It is because of this constitutional dictate that our Rules of Court provides rules for admissibility and relevance. That is Rule 128, Section 4.
“My concern is this: In a strictly judicial proceeding, the plaintiff is required to allege all the ultimate facts of his case. And collateral facts under the Rules of Court are not allowed except when it falls under the exception. In effect, I understand the Defense panel to be requesting from the Senate, as an Impeachment Court, a liberal interpretation of the rules on admissibility and relevance. Maybe that is not such a problem. The problem is that we have to look to the future. And my concern is that we might be going on a slippery slope. In other words, it might be bad precedent.
The second–since my time is very limited–is the point of unfair prejudice. The law on unfair prejudice is, a great deal of evidence is excluded on the ground that costs outweigh the benefits. The judge’s power to exclude relevant evidence, if it’s of probative value, is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. Prejudice can arise from facts that arouse the judges’ hostility or sympathy from one side without regard to the probative value of the evidence.
This is the reason why normal judges are allowed, for example, to exclude pictures of the victim in a murder case because it might be too gruesome and work unfair prejudice. So two points, please.
Davide: “Thank you.”
Arroyo: “Now, as to — I remember only the second point about unfair prejudice. Could the…”
Santiago: “Two points. The first point is, won’t this set a dangerous precedent?”
Arroyo: “Ah, yes, I get it. Now, will it set a dangerous precedent? The remedy is with the Senate. This is policy. The Senate can draft rules. But for so long as the Senate will give us… We are given this to follow; therefore, we operate within this. Now if the Senate, since, anyway, constitutionally now and the months to come will be burdened with this, then all they have to do is to amend the Rules. But as I have stated earlier, these Rules came late. We had already transmitted our Articles of Impeachment before this was even adopted by the Senate. So, what we are saying is, how could we be guided by these Rules of the Senate when they were nonexistent at the time that this was filed, when we framed the Articles of Impeachment? Now if we had this, then perhaps we would have been guided. But we don’t.
Now, the second point about unfair prejudice. I would agree that we would be the last to allow unfair prejudice. But the thing is this: This goes to the very heart of due process and due process is to be informed of the charges. We have been talking about this. This was the subject of the Motion to Quash. This has been subject in every argument. So is there really—is the President caught by surprise here? Is he caught in the sense that, is he caught by surprise? No.
Now, the other one is, we have an impartial tribunal–another element of due process, unless the senators doubt themselves that they cannot render impartial justice. But we have faith that they can render impartial justice.
So, this is what I can say.
Davide: “Thank you, Your Honor. The last would be the—rather, second to the last—the Honorable Majo-rity Leader, Senator-Judge Tatad.
Tatad: “Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
“Congressman Arroyo, may I assure you that I have read the Rules of the Senate on Impeachment. There is nothing in these rules that require the House of Representatives to submit a sloppily constructed complaint.
“Now Rule VI provides that the rules of evidence and procedures shall be liberally construed and you have quoted this. Do you understand this to mean that the charges are also to be liberally construed?”
Arroyo: “To the first question I take offense, Mr. Senator, with the words used—that must the Senate accept a sloppily prepared Articles of Impeachment. Sir, in the Motion to Quash, I said… We are guided by our own rules. And if it’s good enough for the House, the Senate cannot tell us what to do about it. If it passed the House, then take it for what it is. Your function is to proceed on the basis of this.”
Tatad: “If I’d be given a chance, I withdraw the offense.”
Arroyo: “Otherwise, you put the House in a subordi-nate position and we stressed that in our opposition to the Motion to Quash—that as far as the House is concerned, it is supreme in its own sphere in the preparation, because as the Defense said, we have the sole power to initiate. And when we initiate, then we submit it to the Senate. But the Senate must take it.
Tatad: “We have.”
Arroyo: “Now, what’s the second question? I forgot.”
Tatad: “Do you understand Rule VI to mean that the charges are also to be liberally construed?”
Arroyo: “Well, that is what the Senate Rules say.”
Tatad: “No. Evidence and procedure, yes. Charges, that’s the question.”
Arroyo: “Look at your Rules. The Rules of Court, I’ve not even seen it but I’ve memorized it, is suppletory. You know when the word used is ‘suppletory?’ It is just a substitute. It is not the principal one. Now, the Rules of Evidence was…
Tatad: “Rule VI, last part. Rules of Court shall apply whenever applicable.”
Arroyo: “All right. Saan iyon? Ah, ito. All right. ‘The Rules of Court shall apply insofar as they are applicable. Rules of Evidence and Procedure shall be liberally construed.’
“We are talking of evidence here. Therefore, it should be liberally construed. We are talking of evidence here. Admissibility, materiality, that is evidence.”
Tatad: “Yes. But are the charges to remain frozen and firm, or are they to be a work in progress which must grow from time to time?”
Arroyo: “I beg to disagree. This is not work in progress. We are not in waiting while we are here. Well, I cannot argue on a legal point with a non-lawyer.”
Tatad: “Well, regrettably, we are simply in the field of logic.”
Arroyo: “That’s the refuge of the uninitiated.”
Tatad: “Well, I move to strike out those remarks, Mr. Chief Justice.
Arroyo: “I agree.”
Davide: “What was the motion?”
Tatad: “To strike out the unparliamentary expres-sion–”
Davide: “Which portion, Your Honor?”
Tatad: “Mr. Prosecutor, can you quote to us, for the record, Article XI, Section 2 of the Constitution?”
Arroyo: “The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman-man may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.”
Tatad: “Can the Prosecutor focus on the phrase ‘on impeachment for and conviction of’ and tell us what he understands by this phrase?”
Arroyo: “How’s that again?”
Tatad: “It will be on my time if I repeat it, Mr. Chief Justice. May I be allowed to repeat without my time running?”
Arroyo: “You are arguing with me on the Constitution. Go ahead.”
Tatad: “No, I’m asking a question.”
Arroyo: “Which is?”
Davide: “There’s a pending question.”
Tatad: “I’m asking Prosecutor to try to educate us on his understanding of that phrase ‘The President may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of’ and follows the offenses. The focus is on the phrase ‘on impeachment for, and conviction of.’ What is your understanding of this given the fact that the House shall have exclusive power to impeach; on the Senate, the sole power to try and decide impeachment cases?
Arroyo: “Is Your Honor trying to say that there should be a conviction first?”
Tatad: “No. ‘Impeachment for.’ “
Arroyo: “No, because you use the two words. ‘Impeachment for and conviction of.’ “
Tatad: “Yes, that is the Constitution.”
Arroyo: “If you remove the phrase ‘conviction of’ then there’s a meeting of the minds.”
Tatad: “What I am trying to say, Mr. Prosecutor, is that the Senate tries the President only on the offenses for which he has been impeached.”
Arroyo: “Yes, Sir.”
Tatad: “And those that appear in the Articles of Impeachment.”
Arroyo: “The President has been impeached by the House under the Articles of Impeachment.”
Arroyo: “And look at what the Articles of Impeach-ment, may I read to you, here ‘That respondent com-mitted bribery–”
Arroyo: “That respondent committed graft and corrupt practices; that respondent betrayed the public trust; that the respondent culpably violated the Constitution. That meets the requirements of Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution.”
Tatad: “And what about the ultimate facts?”
Arroyo: “The ultimate facts are stated in the allega-tions. I just mentioned the headings.”
Tatad: “The ultimate facts are as stated in the Articles–”
Arroyo: “That’s correct.”
Tatad: “… not as stated in the press.”
Arroyo: “Oh, that’s an insinuation. I again take offense on that. But never mind.”
Tatad: “No offense was intended.”
Arroyo: “Let it stay on the record because that reflects on the judge.
“Pres. Joseph Estrada violated the Constitution and stands guilty of graft and corruption when he directly requested or received for his personal benefit P130 M out of the P230 M released by Secretary Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management allocated under Republic Act 7172 in violation of Section 3-C of Republic Act 3019, as may be seen from the affidavit of Luis C. Singson, provincial governor of Ilocos Sur, dated September 25, 2000. Is that incomplete?
“Second, Pres. Joseph Estrada violated the Consti-tution and stands guilty of graft and corruption when he participated directly in the real estate business through a family controlled corporation which cons-tructed 36 townhouses in Vermont Park, Executive Village, Antipolo City as shown in the PCIJ article on President Estrada’s family and financial interests.
“We are going to prove this independently of number 2, 3, and 4. In fact, this is the easiest to prove.
“Now, the President also violated the anti-graft law he is sworn to uphold. Now, as I stated earlier, we are not throwing the book, the Revised Penal Code, on the President. We are saying that he violated the anti-graft law, the law on statements of assets and liabilities, the unexplained wealth. In fact, three interrelated laws, not all.
“The problem with the Defense and, perhaps, for its reasons his Honor is misled, is that what the Defense has— ”
Tatad: “I move to strike out.”
Arroyo: “All right. What the President has been saying, or rather the President’s lawyers, they have taken the whole thing in its entirety and then tried to put it together and say, ‘You cannot do that’. So we have compartmentalized it, each one. So you can see that with these allegations we prove each one, and which we can do.
Tatad: “Mr. Prosecutor, have you heard of the name Charles Black, Jr.?”
Tatad: “Renowned American constitutionalist in Yale. He wrote the most authoritative handbook on impeachment. May I invite your attention to the book because I am unable to make my points on this respect. Thank you very much.
Arroyo: “I would like to commend the Senator.”
Davide: “The Senate President is recognized.”
Arroyo: “Just a comment, Mr. Chief Justice. I commend the Senator for his search for unders-tanding of the Constitution which is beyond us, who briefed….”
Tatad: “The Senate President is now recognized.”
Pimentel: “Mr. Prosecutor, may I remind you that you were my lawyer in the martial law years and that caused me to go to jail as a result of your impas-sioned pleas.”
Arroyo: “Under the conditions then at that time.”
Pimentel: “Yes, of course. May I ask, Your Honor, of your enumeration of the people who were allegedly, according to you, feeding Savings Account No. 1016062501-5? I would think that you were trying to be selective in your enumeration of the people there.”
Arroyo: “Well, I was running through it. Perhaps I missed some names.”
Arroyo: “Could be. I could have missed some names because I was not reading anymore from my notes.”
Pimentel: “Would you care to fully tell us who are these other people feeding into Savings Account that I have just mentioned?”
Arroyo: “That’s the one that is subject to a subpoena, Mr. President. We have issued a request for subpoena duces tecum.”
Pimentel: “And this savings account is the same–are you saying that this is a combo account with the checking account?”
Arroyo: “That’s correct, Sir. In other words, Mr. Presi-dent, that these two accounts is a combo account. There’s an automatic transfer. In other words, if the funds in the savings account and the current account runs low, then the savings account—there’ll be an automatic transfer from the savings account to the checking account.
“But may I add, Mr. President, that the wonder of it all is that in this case, this had only one transaction, the P142 M. No other transaction. This one, the checking account. It doesn’t earn interest. In other words, after the P142 M was transferred from the Savings Account to the Checking Account, there was no more movement in this account.
Pimentel: “And these documents are contained in Envelope No. 2. Is that what you are saying, Your Honor?”
Arroyo: “Yes, Sir, because that is what the lawyers said, ACCRA.”
Pimentel: “And then, Envelope No. 2 is already in the possession of the Senate. Is that correct?”
Arroyo: “That’s correct. That is what … I think that the Secretary reported it to the Court and also, the lawyers said so. But why should we both produce them yet when it’s already with the Senate?
Pimentel: “Exactly. So, this is something that is already in the possession of the Senate, and if we were not to open it, don’t you think this will cause institutional damage to the Senate itself as an Impeachment Court?
Arroyo: “I prefer not to comment on that. I have offended already some senators here. I don’t want to.
Pimentel: “All right. Would the name William Gatchalian ring a bell, to be reminded of the people who are feeding Savings Account in question?”
Arroyo: “Sir, good. Antonio Evangelista, one of the contractors in one of the mansions. Ramon Lee. Kevin Garcia is the most mysterious because he is not a known person. But he deposited a total of P180 M in that account, and all in cashier’s checks. Many of these are all in cashier’s checks.
“Why should it be in cashier’s checks?”
Pimentel: “Are you asking me?”
Arroyo: “May I read, Mr. Chief Justice, and Mr. President, the concluding paragraph of the letter of Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz, dated 12 January 2001:
“In view of the foregoing, all the documents sought to be produced through the January subpoena are already in the possession, custody and control of the Honorable Court. We respectfully submit that the production and disclosure to or use by the Prosecu-tion of the said documents are subject to this Honorable Court’s final disposition of the objections in respect of their confidentiality and relevance.”
Pimentel: “So these documents were produced not because of a subpoena?”
Arroyo: “No, Sir.”
Pimentel: “They were submitted voluntarily to the custody of the Impeachment Court, is that what you are saying?”
Arroyo: “What happened, Mr. President. is this. When we were looking for the Checking Account, we had this subpoenaed duces tecum. So it was produced and sent here. Then it was followed by another envelope which contains this Savings Account. That is how it went to the Senate as an Impeachment Court. But our request was strictly only on the Checking Account.
Davide: “No more questions, Your Honor?”
Pimentel: “None, thank you.”
Davide: “The Defense will be given ten minutes for rebuttal. Atty. Mendoza.”
Mendoza: “May I please, Your Honors.
“The Prosecutor has implicitly conceded the point of the Defense that the cash assets, as well as the so-called Boracay assets, are not covered by the Articles of Impeachment. Rather, what the Prose-cutor has tried to do, on the basis of information, presumptively obtained illegally in violation of Republic Act 1405, showed on this screen for public viewing in order to induce the Senate, perhaps with public pressure, that by those, the Senate, the President may be accused of the most grievous offense and, consequently, must be deemed covered by the Articles of Impeachment and convic-ted by the Senate.
Senator-Judge Tatad called attention to the phrase ‘on impeachment for and conviction of’.
“I would volunteer my interpretation when it says, ‘on impeachment for and conviction of.’ What is emphasized is that the Respondent cannot be convicted of anything other than what he has been impeached for by the House of Representatives. What the Prosecutor has attempted to do, try to do is, if I may illustrate, is somewhat an illustration I have given before.
“Kung ang isang tao po ay nademanda ng murder, sabihin na natin, dahil pinatay niya si Pedro, noong litisin ito ay nakita nilang mahina pala ang ebidensiya. Hindi nila maaaring ma-convict sa pagkakapatay ni Pedro, kaya naghanap pa sila ng ebidensiya. Nakita nila, pinatay pala si Juan, pinatay pala si Juana, pinatay pala si Petra. (If a person is brought to court for murder, let’s say, because he killed Pedro, but when the case was tried they saw that evidence was weak. They could not convict him for the killing of Pedro, so they fished for more evidence. Then they saw that a certain Juan was also killed, and then Juana was also killed, Petra was also killed.)
“’Naku,’ sabi nila, ‘napakalaking kasalanan ng taong iyan. Masamang tao iyan, kailangan i-convict na natin iyan. Gamitin na natin itong ebidensiyang iba na pinatay niya itong mga tao. Ikondena na natin sa pagkakapatay kay Pedro, maski itong pagkaka-patay nitong iba na hindi kasali diyan.’ Pero hindi po iyan pinahihintulutan, eh. (Then they exclaim ‘how big the crimes he committed was. He is wicked, we must make sure he is convicted. We can use these other evidences showing he killed more people. We convict him for killing Pedro, including those who are not part of the case.’ But this is just not allowed.)
“Mayroon pong kasabihan, hindi ko po maisalin sa Tagalog, pero sa wikang English ay ito, ang sinasabi (There’s a saying which I cannot translate to Tagalog, but in English it goes like this): ‘The end never justifies the means.’ Ganiyan po ang argumento ng (That’s the argument of the) Prosecution.
“Tingnan ninyo, sinasabi nila sa madla, ‘Napaka-laking pagkakasala, napakalaking halaga iyan.’ (Look, they tell the public ‘what a grave offense, how huge the amount of money that is involved.’)
“Hindi ko po sinasabing kay Presidente iyan. Sinasabi ko lang, ganiyan ang sinasabi nila, napakalaking halaga niyan. ‘Hindi ba kayo nayaya-nig diyan, mga Senador, mga Huwes? Maski hindi kasali iyan, hindi pa ba ninyo isasali iyan? Nandidiyan na iyong dokumento sa Senado bakit hindi pa natin buksan?’ (I am not saying the money belongs to the President. What I am saying is that’s what they are saying—the amount is big. ‘Senators and Judges, are you not bothered by it? Even if it is not part of the charge, will you not include it? The document is already in the Senate, why not open it?’)
“Totoo nga po iyan. Dumating dito iyan, wala naman pong subpoena iyan, eh. Hindi naman kasali sa subpoena iyan, eh. (That’s true. It reached the Senate even without subpoena. It is not included in the subpoena.) In other words, even that second envelope should not have been here in the Senate. Ganiyan po ang nangyayari, eh. (That’s how it happened.) And this is what we have been complaining about and raising—the point we have been raising even from inception of these proceedings.
“Iyan pong tseke diyan sa Boracay, doon pa sa (On the check about Boracay, during the) opening statement po ni (by) Congressman Arroyo, lumabas na iyan, eh. Papaano pong nakuha iyan, wala namang subpoena? (That was illegally procured evidence. And when evidence is illegally procured, this ceases to be admissible. In fact, it is our submission, if ever the Senate should rule, that the subpoena should be issued by this… At this point in time, that evidence proceeding from that second account can no longer be used because it has been illegally procured.
“Sino po ba ang nagsabi? Wala naman pong maaaring magsabi pa sa (Who shared the informa-tion? No one can possibly told the) Prosecution kung anong nandidiyan sa (what’s inside the) second account na iyan kundi rin empleyado ng bangko. Samakatuwid, nalaman nila ang impormasyon na iyan sapagkat ang batas nalabag, nilabag ng mga empleyado sa bangko ang batas. Kung nilabag ng empleyado ng bangko ang batas at sa pamamagitan noon nagkaroon ng base ang (except bank employees themselves. In other words, they got the information by illegal means, the bank employees broke the law. If bank employees broke the law and because of that this becomes the basis of the) Prosecution, then the evidence, which is the fruit, the result of the fruit, the fruit of that poison tree, cannot be used as evidence anymore. Ganiyan po ang nangyayari. (And that is what is happening now.)
“The end, if Your Honor please, can never justify the means.
“The means for impeachment have been clearly stated in the Constitution. You must impeach.
The House of Representatives said, ‘Totoo nga po, sinasabi nila, hindi daw sila si (‘True, they say, they are not) Kenneth Starr. Hindi daw sila ang nag-imbestiga kay Presidente (they were not the ones who investigated President) Nixon.’
“Ang katotohanan, iyon pong lahat ng imbesti-gasyon doon kay Presidente Nixon at kay Presidente Clinton (The truth is, all those investigations regar-ding President Nixon and President Clinton), nangyari iyon sa (were conducted at the) House of Representatives, and that is what the House of Rep-resentatives should have done. All of these impeach-ment processes, all of these discovery procedures should have been done in the House of Represen-tatives. Pero hindi po ginawa iyan, eh. Ang ginawa nila, (But this was not done. What they did) verify na lang. Sabi, ‘Totoo po iyon, eh.’ Sabi ng mga (They say ‘That’s true.’ Say the) congressmen, ‘Ipa-dala na iyan sa Senado.’ (‘Send it now to the Senate.’)
“Ngayon po, maliwanag, hindi maaaring pinatoto-hanan ng (It’s now clear the) House of Represen-tatives na (cannot confirm) nag-verify ng impeach-ment na iyan, Articles na iyan sapagkat sinasabi ni (because as mentioned by) Congressman Arroyo iyang impormasyon na iyan nalaman lamang nila noong Disyembre. Kung nalaman lamang nila noong Disyembre iyan, ano naman ang porma ng beripikasyon na kinakailangan? Hindi po maa-aring vinerify iyan ng mga miyembro ng (this information came to their knowledge in December. And if they knew it in December, what kind of verification was needed? Verification cannot be done by members of the) House of Representatives sapagkat iyon pong (because that) Articles of Impeachment, Nobyembre pa po ang petsa niyan (was dated in November yet.)
“Maliwanag po na iyan ay hindi pinatotohanan ng sino mang miyembro ng (It’s clear that it was never verified by any member of the) House of Representatives na pumirma sa (that signed the) Articles of Impeachment sapagkat noong panahon na iyon hindi pa po, wala pa pong empleyado ng bangko na mayroong lakas-loob na gumawa nang di sang-ayon sa batas at ibigay iyang impormasiyon na iyan (because during that time, no bank employee could have had the courage to break the law and share this information).
“Hindi po (Not the) House, hindi po (not the) Senate Rules ang ini-invoke namin, eh. Hindi po liberal interpretation ang isyu dito, eh (is not the issue here). Ang amin pong ini-invoke ito pong Saligang-Batas (What we invoke here is the Constitution). Madali lamang pong intindihin ito, eh. Ano po ba ang demanda? Ang Senado po ay hindi puwedeng tumanggap ng ebidensiya, hindi maaaring mag-isyu ng subpoena kung hindi natutukoy tungkol doon sa mga nililitis na (This is easy to understand. What is the charge? The Senate cannot accept evidence, cannot issue subpoena unless they relate to the trial of) Articles of Impeachment na nanggaling sa (that originated from the) House of Representatives.
Pimentel: “One question, Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “The Senate President.”
Pimentel: “If you will allow me, Atty. Mendoza. Iyong halimbawa mo na pinatay si Pedro, hindi puwedeng mag-submit ng ebidensiya na pati si Juan ay pinatay din. Tama po iyon. Pero hindi ba totoo na iyong pamamaraang paano pinatay si Pedro, initak ba siya? Tinalian ba siya ng lubid? (That example about Pedro’s killing, it’s true that evidence on the killing of Juan cannot be accepted. But is it not true that the manner by which Pedro was killed–was he hacked? Was he strangled?) Was there superior force, you know, exerted on him to kill him? These are valid evidences, I would think.
Mendoza: “Opo. Pero tungkol lahat sa pagpatay kay Pedro.” (Yes. But all about the killing of Pedro.)
Pimentel: “Yes, and this is exactly what is being talked about. It is about the corruption, alleged corruption of the President.”
Mendoza: “Eh, iyon pong means, eh, nandidito din po sa (they are also found here in) Articles of Impeachment. Hindi naman po kami ang gumawa nitong (We were not the ones who prepared this) Articles of Impeachment. Hindi rin naman po ang Senado ang gumawa nito, eh. Ang (The Senate did not do this too. The) House of Representatives po ang gumawa, eh (did this).
Pimentel: “Thank you.”
Mendoza: “Salamat po.” (Thank you.)
Davide: “The Majority Leader.”
Arroyo: “Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “Yes. Prosecutor Arroyo.”
Arroyo: “Could I just have about a few minutes? Could I just have, lest these go in the Record unchallenged, just three minutes?”
Arroyo: “Can you give me three minutes, Mr. Chief Justice? Just a sur-rebuttal. Three minutes.”
Davide: “Sur-rebuttal? I guess no more. We ended the oral argument by way of a rebuttal to the reply. The issues have been properly joined and vigorously discussed.”
Tatad: “Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “The Majority Leader.”
Tatad: “I move that we now put this to a vote by the Court.”
Davide: “There is a motion to….the only issue on the opening? On the opening. So, there is a motion to put that to a vote.”
Guingona: “Just to clarify, Mr. Chief Justice. There was a previous ruling that this….the Prosecution is mandated to present evidence in order to link as a condition to the admission of the first Clarissa Ocampo testimony.”
Davide: “But there is now….”
Guingona: “Are we now voting on that condition? Or….”
Davide: “No, no. The issue is very, very clear. It is just on the issue of the opening that had been raised. There is a motion to that effect.”
Guingona: “Well, if it is on the opening…”
Davide: “Yes. The honorable Senator Legarda-Leviste–”
Guingona: “If it is….”
Davide: “ –for a while.”
Leviste: “I am sorry. I do not wish to interrupt Senator-Judge Guingona. I just wish to clarify a point, Mr. Chief Justice. I would like to inquire whether the Chief Justice will render a ruling or whether he will leave it to the Impeachment Court to vote on it right now.”
Davide: “Actually, under the Rules–”
Drilon: “Mr. Chief Justice….”
Davide: “–of the Senate, the Presiding Officer may, but there is a motion now that it is the Body that will.”
Enrile: “I second the motion, Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “Yes. Senator Drilon.”
Drilon: “Yes. The pleading, Mr. Chief Justice, styled opposition to opening of second envelope. That is how the pleading is styled. In truth and in fact, we have discussed for the last several hours the question of relevancy of what is contained in the second envelope, and therefore, since it is a question of relevancy, under Rule VI, Your Honor, the Chief Justice can rule initially.
“Of course, that option is for the Chief Justice. I just want to highlight the fact that what we are talking of here is a question of materiality, relevancy, compe-tency of the evidence and incidental questions, and therefore, initially, it is the Chief Justice who will rule. Of course, I will repeat, that is an option of the Chief Justice if he wants to pass it on immediately to the Court. But let me just emphasize, Your Honor, that it is not the opposition, while it styled opposition to the opening of the second envelope, it is actually a rule on the relevancy of what is in the second envelope.”
Davide: “The honorable Senator-Judge Cayetano.”
Cayetano: “I rise here, Mr. Chief Justice, to support the statement of Senator Drilon. Our Rule VI is very clear. It says:
“…the Chief Justice when presiding on the trial may rule on all questions of evidence including, but not limited to, questions of materiality, relevancy, competency or admissibility of evidence and inci-dental questions, which ruling shall stand as the judgment of the Senate, unless a Member of the Senate shall ask that a formal vote be taken thereon, in which case it shall be submitted to the Senate for decision after one contrary view is expressed…
“My point, Mr. Chief Justice, is it is the Chief Justice first that should rule on the question of whether the opening of the second envelope is material and relevant to the matter at hand and, I believe that is the rule, Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “The Majority Leader.”
Tatad: “Just to speak a little more to my motion. Under Rule VI:
“…the Chief Justice when presiding on the trial may rule on all questions of evidence including, but not limited to, questions of materiality, relevancy, competency, admissiblity of evidence and inciden-tal questions, which ruling shall stand as the judgment of the Senate, unless a Member of the Senate shall ask that a formal vote be taken thereon, in which case it shall be submitted to the Senate for decision after one contrary view is expressed, et cetera.
“The Rule is well understood—all questions of materiality, relevancy, competency.
“I do recall in the course of the arguments that the Defense raised the question of jurisdiction, that simply admissibility, materiality, et cetera. And I have been approached by a number of members of the Court suggesting that a vote be taken on this issue right here on the Floor. That is the reason for the motion. And since the motion has been moved and seconded, and there is an opposition, it is in order that we divide the House on this issue.
Roco: “Point of order.”
Davide: “What is the point of order of Senator Roco?”
Roco: “May I ask that the Rule be read completely, and this is a mode of a point of order. May I just continue where the Majority Leader left off. It says:
“…unless a Member of the Senate shall ask that a formal vote be taken thereon, in which case it shall be submitted to the Senate for decision after one contrary view is expressed; or the Presiding Officer may at his option, in the first instance, submit any such question to a vote of the Members of the Senate.
“So that the option is really with the Chief Justice, but he may, of course, give it to us. Thank you.”
Davide: “The Presiding Officer is placed by the Court in a dilemma. You have the second paragraph of Rule VI of Resolution No. 68 on the Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Trial. While it may be true that initially, he may be given, he can exercise that option, you have now a member of the Court itself moving that it should be voted upon, duly seconded, and an opposition was made. Under the circumstance then, the Chair will have to submit it to the Body. The Chair cannot pretend to preempt a motion, unless that motion is withdrawn.
Drilon: “There are two incidents then, Your Honor. The first incident is, the way I understand it, we vote as to whether the Chief Justice should initially rule. Is that the first one?”
Davide: “No, it is not. The ruling of the Chair is, he cannot exercise the option precisely because he is in a dilemma now. There is an existing motion, duly seconded, that that issue should be submitted to a vote.”
Drilon: “The main issue, Your Honor? We are just inquiring.”
Davide: “Yes. The main issue. Meaning that there should be a voting now in open court on the issue that had been raised on whether to open that envelope.”
Davide: “What is the inquiry?”
Roco: “What is the specific motion? Is this an inter-locutory motion to prevent opening? Because I just want to know what exactly…
Davide: “That was the motion of the Majority Leader on that issue.”
Roco: “No. He just said ‘to vote.’ But we do not know what exactly what we are voting. What is the substantive main motion?”
Davide: “To be voted upon would be the issue of whether to open or not that envelope.”
Roco: “And that is in the nature of an interlocutory order, I guess, because it is not a final disposition. Would this be correct, Mr. Chief Justice?”
Davide: “What shall we do with the present motion?”
Tatad: “The motion…”
Davide: “Yes, the Honorable Senator Sergio Osmeña III.”
Osmeña: “Mr. Chief Justice, I believe a motion should be put in positive form. Not just to vote. Therefore, with the permission of the Majority Leader, may I move that Envelope No. 2 be opened?”
Davide: “That is the positive motion. In effect, it is a modification of the motion of the Majority Leader. What is the position of the Majority Leader?”
Tatad: “Mr. Chief Justice, the original motion presented is that the Court vote on the motion presented by the Prosecution that we open the second envelope.”
Roco: “So, in answer to my inquiry, Mr. Chief Justice, I take it as an interlocutory question. May I then appeal to Rule XXII?”
Roco: “Twenty two, Mr. Chief Justice. That in matters of interlocutory question, we can speak for ten minutes and for not more than 15 minutes on the final question.”
Davide: “On the final question.”
Roco: “Yes. Since this is an interlocutory order, and then maybe, for those who…. May we just skip…?”
Davide: “I am…. The Chair feels that Rule XXII will not apply on the matter. It would refer to orders and decisions.”
Roco: “Which may be acted upon–”
Roco: “–without objection, or if objection is heard, the orders and decisions shall be voted on without debate by yes and nays, which shall be entered in the record, subject, however, to the operation of Rule VI, and in that case no member shall speak more than once on one question, and for not more than ten minutes on an interlocutory question, and for not more than fifteen minutes on the final question….”
Davide: “Yes, on an interlocutory question.”
Roco: “And motion pending to open…”
Davide: “We can allow, we can apply, and there will be debate subject to the time limitation under Rule XXII.”
Roco: “If we may, we would wish to avail. I will not occupy the whole ten minutes.”
Davide: “You can. But, first, we should hear the proponent of the motion.”
Roco: “Of course. If the Majority Leader would wish to speak on the….”
Davide: “The Majority Leader. Meaning, the period of debate on this particular interlocutory motion, order, would be ten minutes for the proponent and ten minutes for the oppositor.”
Tatad: “Mr. Chief Justice, distinguished Members of the Court.
“We have listened intently to both parties, Prosecution and the Defense, argue the point at issue. It is of utmost importance to this trial that we take a decision as a Court as to whether or not we are going to allow matters which are not specifically included in the Articles of Impeachment to be accepted by this Court.
“Several days ago, we allowed the opening of an envelope. The contents have not been received in evidence, but they have allowed to feed the popular fancy about what’s happening in this Court.
“As a Senator-Judge, without the legal education that the distinguished Prosecutor has, I come to this Court solely to see if the President of the Philippines deserves to be convicted or acquitted on the basis of the Articles of Impeachment as they are written. I do not believe the Senate can go beyond the Articles of Impeachment.
“The United States has a richer legal experience on impeachment. But even so, there are very few experts and authorities on impeachment. But the most widely quoted authority, Prof. Charles Black of Yale University, in his handbook, Impeachment, containing 80 pages, a very slim volume—this was prepared during the Nixon impeachment in the House—says with clarity and vigor that ‘The Sena-tor’s sole duty is to try the impeached official’—in this case, the President–’only on the basis of the charges for which he has been impeached by the House of Representatives.’
“’It might be emphasized,’ Professor Black says, ‘that the Senator’s role is solely one of acting on the accusations, the Articles of Impeachment voted by the House of Representatives. The Senate cannot lawfully find the President guilty of something not charged by the House any more than a jury can find a defendant guilty of something not charged in the indictment. This follows from the elementary princi-ples of fair notice as well as from the linkage implied by the constitutional phrase on impeachment for and conviction of. It could hardly make sense to read this as allowing impeachment for one thing and conviction for another. Of course, any material unco-vered in the course of the Senate trial might be matter for a new impeachment in the House of Representatives.’
“I think I can say that I have been impressed with a lot of the testimonies we have heard in this Court. A lot of criminal activity has been referred to in this Court; a lot of improprieties have been revealed for which I believe the President must respond to. But these things deserve to be heard in their own and proper place since they are not covered in the Articles of Impeachment. We cannot expand the coverage of the Articles of Impeachment.
“In Article 1, for instance, the President is charged with bribery. What is the allegation? That he received on a monthly basis P10 M in protection money from Gov. Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson. Supposing, a witness were to come to us today and say that on Christmas Day or on New Year’s eve, the President had accepted a container van full of money in exchange for presidential approval of a multibillion peso contract, can we bring that evidence to prove his guilt under Article 1? As a non-lawyer, I don’t believe we can. We should charge him in a separate forum, not here.
“Well, I have only 10 minutes, Mr. President, and not being a lawyer, I do not have the right to overspeak but I believe I have made my stand.”
Davide: “The Honorable Senator Roco who made a reservation.”
Roco: “Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “And after that, the Honorable Senator-Judge Loren Legarda-Leviste; then the Honorable Senator Guingona.”
Roco: “I appeal to my friends and colleagues. In fact, maybe if we can dispense with this as soon as possible, it is better. But it is in the nature of the impeachment process, Mr. Chief Justice, that passions, that there are passions, and I can see the passion of the Prosecution, I can see the passion of the Defense, and sometimes it is precisely because there is passion that we as lawyers and we as senators must now rise above ourselves.
“What is at issue, Mr. Chief Justice, of course, is an interlocutory question but what is being charged is not just President Estrada. We are now putting ourselves before the bar of history. We are putting ourselves before the bar of public opinion, and our judgment on this interlocutory order can therefore affect not just President Estrada, but the Chamber and this Impeachment Court.
“I rise consequently, Mr. Chief Justice, to appeal to all of us to try to consider the interests of not only the Chamber as a Senate, not only the Chamber as an Impeachment Court, but the interest and responsibility that we owe to all those who sent us here. Unfortunately, there is nobody else being given the assignment to try. Wala na pong ibang makapaglilitis dito sa isyung ito kundi tayo. Kaya importante na lahat tayo ay…. ang pinakamataas na kaya natin sa ating kaisipan ang ihahandog natin sa bayan.
Nakita ko po na nagkakainitan kanina ang Prosecu-tor at ang ibang mga kasama natin. Nakikita kong nagkakainisan pero kung ito lang po ang dahilan, sa palagay ko’y…. Tayo din, sa Senado nagkaka-inisan din tayo pero naitatabi natin iyan upang maibigay natin at maialay natin sa bayan iyong pinakamahusay. Ano ang nakikita ko po? (The task of hearing this case is unique to us. It is important that we offer our best to the country. I saw earlier the heated exchange between the Prosecutor and some of our fellow judges, but things like this, even among us Senators, if this is a way by which we can show to our people that we are doing our best… What do I see?)
If we convict or declare as innocent the Respondent, President Estrada, it must be on full transparency. Dapat naiilawan lahat. Napakalungkot po kung (We need to shed light on everything. It is sad if) mag-convict tayo or mag-declare na hindi guilty ang Presidente at may nalimutan o may napagtakpan na ebidensiya. Ang (we convict or acquit the President and we missed something or we allowed suppres-sion of evidence. That) technical objection ay wala daw doon sa (is said to be not part of the) Complaint. Kung tutuusin, nandiyan eh. Ang sabi nga ng (In fact, it is there. As mentioned by) former Justice Isagani Cruz sa kaniyang isinulat, mahihirapan lang daw talagang makita na nandiyan sa (in his article, it’s there but the Defense may find it hard to see it in the) Articles of Impeachment ang defense at naiintindihan ko rin iyan sapagkat tayong mga abogado, magkukuwento tayo ng side natin. Ang (and I also understand it because as lawyers, we present our side. The) Prosecution, ikukuwento ang side nila (they will present their side); ang Defense, ikukuwento ang side nila (they will present their side), at tayo naman natapat na tayo ngayon ang magha-hatol. So hinihingi po natin, puwedeng ang (and we as Senator-Judges happen to be the ones who will decide. So we ask, it is possible for the) Prose-cution or ang Defense mag-aaway dito pero tayo po, ang hihintayin natin ay ang kabuuan ng ebidensiya (to quarrel here but for us, our task is to wait for the entire body of evidence to unfold.)
The fact that we are on trial should make us pause, Mr. Chief Justice, and I hope we can achieve some consensus on some points. Kung ano man po ang hatol ng (Whatever is the verdict of the) Impeach-ment Court na ito finally, maging guilty o maging innocent, ang importante ay suportahan ng mamamayang Pilipino (what is important is it gets the support of the Filipino people). It is not as important that it is guilty or innocent. It must be supported by the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.
“This evening, we seem to be about to cross a bridge and I hope, Mr. Chief Justice, that when we cross that, we retain the higher credibility of the Impeachment Court and the impeachment process. Tayo po ang nautusan (We have been called to serve) and that is why I do not want to debate on legal technicalities. The interest of national unity, the interest of the people, ang kapakanan po ng ating sambayanan ay nakataya at hindi natin puwedeng malimutan at iyon naman ang tunay na isyu dito sa pinag-uusapan natin kung bubuksan (the interest of the nation is what’s at stake and we cannot forget that that is the real issue in this discussion).
“Kanina nabanggit ko rin po na bawal ang paggamit ng hindi tunay na pangalan. Nasa (A while ago I mentioned that it is illegal to use fictitious names. It is in the) Penal Code. At sinumpaan ni Presidente na ma-implement iyan. (And the President took an oath to implement that.) May Commonwealth Act at sinumpaan ni Presidente na bawal iyan, at siya ang mag-i-implement. (There is a Commonwealth Act and the President took an oath to implement its prohibitions.) Ngayon po iyong batas na iyon magagamit sa pagtakip. Siguro po hindi tama kung ganyan ang gagawin natin. (Now these laws can be used to hide something. It does not seem right if that is what we are going to do.)
“In summary, because I have less than two minutes, I think if I may appeal to my colleagues, we are the ones now being judged. It’s the Chamber. As we vote on this, we shall be judged. And I hope we… and I have the highest regard. And whenever I’m asked by media, I keep saying, ‘I have the highest expecta-tions from my colleagues.’ And I hope that that expectation will be met and approved and accepted by the Filipino people.”
Davide: “Thank you. The honorable Senator-Judge Loren Legarda-Leviste.”
Leviste: “Salamat po, Mr. Chief Justice.”
“Simple lang po. May I manifest, Mr. Chief Justice, that this matter before us tonight is the same issue that was before us a few weeks ago, I believe, before Christmas. And that was the subject of an Extended Order by the Chief Justice, by the Presiding Officer, dated December 18, 2000. And therefore, I believe that to be consistent with that ruling then, the appropriate thing to do is to allow the opening of the second set of documents.
“Mr. Chief Justice, our job here is to ferret out the truth. The people deserve nothing less than to know the truth. Payagan po nating, malaman ng taumbayan ang katotohanan sa pagbukas po ng pangalawang dokumento (Let us allow the people to know the truth by having the second envelope opened).
Davide: “Thank you, Your Honor. The Chair will now recognize the Honorable Senator-Judge Guingona.”
Guingona: “Gusto ko lang sanang ipahayag na itong pagbukas ng (I just want to say that opening of this) envelope, not only is in line with the former order of the Chief Justice, conditionally, pero, ito, within the jurisdiction at within the materiality at hindi po totoo, sa aking pananaw, na ito ay parang (and it is not true, in my view, that it is similar to the) murder case na pinatay si Pedro, at ang lumalabas ay iba iyong pinatay. Kaya iyong si Petra ay hindi pwedeng masali rito sapagkat ang charge dito na nakalagay ay (that Pedro was killed and yet what has unraveled is somebody else was killed. So this Petra cannot be included here because the charge that is stated here is) he also violated the anti-graft law he is sworn to uphold.
“He filed his Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1999, stating therein that he and his wife and children have business interests in only three corporations. Hindi sinasabi diyan na iyong (There is no mention in it that) unexplained wealth ay (is) P500 million lamang (only); iyong (that) unex-plained wealth ay (is) P2 billion lamang (only); iyong (that) unexplained wealth ay (is) P3.3 billion o mas malaki pa, sapagkat iyan ang batas (or even bigger, because that is the law). And that is very relevant to the charges we are now hearing.
“Kaya iyong Pedro, Petra, hindi po (Hence that Pedro, Petra is not) analogous dito sa nililitis natin na (to what we are hearing in these) impeachment proceedings. And since this is only the opening of the envelope at kailangang malaman ng taumba-yan kung ano ang talagang katotohanan, palagay ko, (and the people need to know what really is the truth, I think) Mr. Chief Justice, we owe it to the nation, we owe it to the Filipino, we owe it to the millions who are now listening to grant this simple request. Buksan natin iyong sobre upang malaman kung ano talaga ang nakalagay diyan. (Let us open the envelope so we know what really is in it.)
“Why is the Defense objecting so vigorously? Kung natuloy ba iyong plano na nabulgar dito na si (If the plan succeeded to make) Mr. Dichaves ang may-ari ng (as owner of) savings account, magkakaroon ba ng (will there be) objection kagaya ng (like the) objection na hinaharap natin ngayon (that we face today)? Palagay ko hindi magkakaroon ng ganoong (I don’t think there will be) objection.
“Alam na ng bayan (People already know) and the people have a right to know, we have a right to know, and in the name of truth, in the name of the Filipino, in the name of justice, I ask that this envelope be opened now.
Davide: “Thank you. The honorable Senator-Judge Biazon. Then after that, the honorable Senator-Judge S. Osmeña III, Cayetano, Johnny Enrile, Tessie Aquino-Oreta.”
Biazon: “Noong isang linggo po, nagpunta ako sa (Last week, I went to) San Manuel, Tarlac, kausap ko po iyong mga magsasaka. Ang tanong sa akin, ‘Iyon po bang inyong proseso ay maipakikita sa amin kung ano ang katotohanan?’ (got around to talk to the farmers. They asked me ‘will your process show us what is the truth?’)
“Dito po ay may nabanggit na tayong (Here there is already mention of) P500 million trust account, may nabanggit na tayong (we already mentioned) P142 million na ginamit po doon sa isang mansiyon. Ito pong (that was used for a mansion. This) P142 million na ito, itong P500 million ngayon ay lumalabas na iisa yata ang may-ari sapagkat iyong tatlong (now it appears that there is only one owner because these 3) accounts na sinasabi puro po (being mentioned are all) Jose Velarde. Jose Velarde iyong trust account, Jose Velarde iyong pinuntahan noong (is where the) P142 million (ended up), at ngayon ay mayroong mga lumalabas na impormasyon, mga kababayan, (and now some information is coming out, fellow citizens), Chief Justice, mga kapanalig ko po dito sa Senado, na ito nga pala ay parte ng isang malaking kayamanang maaaring magkahalaga ng (fellow believers in the Senate, that these amounts are part of a huge treasure amounting to) P3.3 billion sa pangalan ng (in the name of) Jose Velarde. Papaano po natin puwedeng paghiwa-hiwalayin iyong tatlong iyon kung iisa lang naman pala ang pangalan na ating nadidinig? (How can we segregate these three if we hear only one name?) Jose Velarde sa P142 million, Jose Velarde sa P500 million. Merong impormasyon na (There is information that) Jose Velarde pa rin ang nakakabit dito sa (is yet linked to this) P3.3 billion. Mahaharap ko pa kaya uli iyong mga taong nagta-nong sa aking magsasaka kung hindi po natin bubuksan at pakakawalan iyong katotohanan na nakakulong diyan sa pangalawang (Will I be able to face the farmer who asked me questions if we do not open and free the truth that is trapped inside that second) envelope na iyan?
“I need to see what is in that envelope. It can help me formulate my decision when the time for me to render my final decision comes. Pag hindi ko po nakita kung ano ang nasa loob ng (If I do not see what is inside that) envelope na iyon, kung ano pa man ang aking magiging hatol, pirmi ko pong iisipin habang-buhay na ang aking hatol ay kulang. Ang ibig ko pong sabihin, kung ano man ang aking magi-ging hatol ay sapagkat nakabase sa katotohanan. Huwag nating ikulong ang katotohanan na iyan na nakakulong diyan sa envelope na iyan. Palabasin natin iyan sapagkat ang sabi po ng ating mamama-yan: ‘Katotohanan po lamang ang aming hinihingi.’ (whatever my verdict will be, I will bear in mind for as long as I live that my judgment was wanting. What I mean is whatever decision I will make will be based on the truth. Let us not lock the truth inside that envelope. Let us free it because, say our fellowmen: ‘The truth is all we ask for.’)
“Again, by the nature of what constitutes an impeachment proceeding that I have expounded many times, I invoke Rule VI or Section 6 or Article VI of the Senate Rules na hindi po maaring ikulong ang katotohanan dahil lamang sa teknikalidad. Hindi natin maaaring ikulong ang katotohanan dahil po lamang sa (the truth cannot be suppressed on the sole ground of technicality. We cannot hide the truth simply because of) legalistic gobbledygook.
Davide: “Thank you, Your Honor. The honorable Senator-Judge S. Osmeña III.”
Osmeña: “Mr. Chief Justice, you know, tonight the reputation of the Senate as an institution is at stake. For the past several weeks starting December 7, practically the whole country has followed the progress of this impeachment trial via television, or radio or video tapes later on. Everybody knows the evidence that has been brought out in this trial, whether they were accepted conditionally or absolutely they still know. But what is important to this institution, Mr. Chief Justice, is not whether the final verdict of the senators will be to convict or to acquit the President of the Republic. What is important is that the process was transparent and that the verdict is in keeping with the evidence that has been brought out during this trial. Pag overwhelming po ang evidence, eh, ano ang maga-gawa natin–ma-a-acquit ba iyan? Eh, magagalit ang taong-bayan sa atin. Pag kulang naman ang ebiden-siya, (If evidence is overwhelming, what can we do, do we acquit? The people will surely slam us. But if the evidence is weak) it would be ridiculous for us to convict His Excellency, the President.
“Ngayon po, noong (Now, on) December 20, binuksan po natin iyong (we opened) Envelope No. 1. Iyong nakasulat ho diyan (What is written there), ‘Jose Velarde,’ Wala namang koneksiyon pa kay Pangulong (There is no connection yet to President) Erap Estrada. Ngunit mayroong (But there is) notation diyan na ito po ang (that there is) the other half of a combo account at nakasulat po doon iyong (and it is written there that) savings account number ni Jose Velarde. Later on, when Clarissa Ocampo testified that, indeed, she saw the President of the Republic signed Jose Velarde to five sets of documents, the agency agreement or Investment Management Agreement, the authorization to debit his savings account, the very same numbered savings account that was in the first set of documents that came out of the first envelope delivered here by Equitable Bank and other documents, that was when the connection was made.
“Now, the Senate allowed the opening of the first envelope. The Senate allowed the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo and people found Clarissa Ocampo to be very, very credible. After all, she had no reason to lie.
“Ngayon po, dito sa (Now, in this) account that is being hidden inside Envelope No. 2, the savings account, as asserted earlier by Prosecutor Joker Arroyo, will show reported deposits of about P3.3 billion over a span of 12 months.
“Malamang po ay nandiriyan ang deposito na galing sa (It is likely that is where deposits coming from) tobacco fund na binanggit ni (mentioned by) Gov. Chavit Singson na ibinigay daw niya kay (are being kept and which he said he gave to) Atong Ang, at ibinigay ni (and given by) Atong Ang kay (to) Joseph Estrada. Paano natin malalaman iyon? Malamang nandiriyan din ho ang (How will we know it? It is likely that is where we will also find the) P200 million na ibinigay ni (given by) Ricaforte kay (to) Ed Serapio at idiniposito daw ni (which was said to be deposited by) Ed Serapio sa isang (in one) Equitable Bank account, the same bank. As a matter of fact, the treasurer of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation is none other than the chairman of the Board or then chairman of the Board and majority owner, George L. Go.
“So, sa ngayon po (as of now), as a member of this impeachment panel, ako po ay nagtataka kung bakit natatakot ang (I am surprised why the) Defense panel na buksan ang (is afraid to open this) envelope na ito. Sapagkat, una sa lahat, nadinig ko po (Because, first of all, I heard), and I have heard it several times that His Excellency, the President, said, ‘I have not committed graft and corruption; I have not received a single cent from any source that is illegal.’ And when Clarissa Ocampo testified, I remember the President said, ‘Wala akong kinala-man diyan.’ (‘I have nothing to do with it.’) So, why is the Defense panel so afraid to open this?
“On the other hand, baka pag binuksan ang (if we get to open this) envelope na ito ay tapos na ang boksing (it might just end it all). And that is where we are tonight.
“So, Mr. Chief Justice, when we took an oath to be members of this impeachment panel, we took an oath to render impartial justice. As far as I am concerned, the one on trial here, the President of the Republic, is not really the one on trial. It is the Senate that is on trial.
“Furthermore, the Senate has been conducting this impeachment trial to make sure that society can be saved from anybody who would be declared unfit for public office.
“Simple question: Can a president or any official deposit P3.3 billion in his account and still be fit for public office? That is the question tonight. And if we vote not to open Envelope No. 2, and I know that the contents of Envelope No. 2 will somehow find its way into the newspapers if not tomorrow then the day after and the whole country will know what is in Envelope No. 2, then I think the members of this Body will only have themselves to blame for trying to make sure that the Filipinos lose on a technicality. Pag may na-technical dito, ang taong-bayan po ang na-technical.
“Therefore, Mr. Chief Justice, I move that we open the envelope and even accept on condition, in the same manner that we opened the first envelope and we allowed Clarissa Ocampo to testify so that later on we, as members of the Impeachment Body, may decide whether, indeed, the testimony and the documents were relevant or not.”
Davide: “The Honorable Senator-Judge Cayetano; after him, the honorable Senator-Judge Enrile; and finally, the honorable Senator-Judge Aquino-Oreta, the honorable Senator-Judge John H. Osmeña, the honorable Senator-Judge Franklin M. Drilon, and the honorable Senator-Judge Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr.”
Cayetano: “Ang paningin po ng ating mga kababa-yan sa buong bansa ay nasa atin ngayong gabi simula po nang magdebate dito ang Prosekyusyon at ang Depensa at kasama na po ang mga pananalita ng mga Senador-Huwes dito sa isyu na kung dapat ba nating buksan iyang pangalawang envelope na hinihiling ng Prosekyusyon. (The whole nation have its eyes fixed us tonight since the start of the debate among the Prosecution, Defense and Senator-Judges on the issue of whether we should open the second envelope or not as requested by the Prosecution.)
“Sana po ay pinagbigyan natin ang ating Mahal na Mahistrado, si (I had hoped that the) Presiding Officer, the Honorable Chief Justice na siya muna ang mag-ruling sapagkat iyan naman po ay naaayon sa (was given the opportunity to first issue a ruling as this is provided under) Rule VI ng ating (of our) Senate Rules on Impeachment. Sana po ay gusto kong marinig kung ano ang kaniyang sasabihin, kung papayagan niyang buksan itong (I hoped to hear what he had to say, if he would allow the opening of this) second envelope o hindi. Subalit (or not. But this is) moot and academic na po iyan sapagkat naunahan po tayo ng isang musyon (now because we are now pre-empted by a motion).
Ano kaya ang laman nitong (What could be the content of this) envelope na ito? Bomba? Kung ito man ay bomba, palagay ko po ay hindi nakaka-matay ito ng tao, na kagaya noong mga bombang sumabog noong (Bombs? If these are bombs, I don’t think they can kill people, unlike the ones that exploded on) December 30. Kung ito’y bomba, baka ito po ay bomba ng katotohanan kaya dapat siguro nating buksan at huwag tayong matakot sapagkat iyang bomba na iyan ang magbibigay sa atin, hindi lamang ng katotohanan. Sinabi nga po ng Bibliya, (If this is a bomb, perhaps this is a bomb of truth which we should unwrap and for which we should not fear because that bomb will give us not only the truth. As quoted in the Bible) ‘The truth shall set us free.’
“Ang akin pong mga kaibigan sa Depensa, kahit ayaw nilang tanggapin, subalit iyong kanilang mga argumento ay sinasabing ang proseso rito ay (My friends in the Defense, even if they refuse to accept it, their arguments would make it appear like these are) criminal proceedings. Halimbawa po ngayon ay narinig natin ang aking mahal na Propesor, na binanggit iyong tinatawag na prinsipyo na (For example we just heard it from my beloved professor, talking about the principle that), ‘The fruit of the poison tree cannot be admitted.’ Iyan po ay prinsip-yo sa (That is a principle of) Criminal Law, iyong tinatawag na (that so-called) ‘proof beyond reason-able doubt’ na nabanggit din dito (also mentioned here) days ago. Again, iyan po ay prinsipyo ng (that is a principle of) Criminal proceeding.
“Pero, gaya po nang pagkakasabi ko kanina, hindi po ito (However, like I said earlier, this is not a) criminal proceeding. Ito po ay (This is a) political process na nakalagay sa ating Saligang Batas para husgahan kung ang isang Pangulo ay dapat manatili sa kaniyang puwesto. Hindi dapat kulungin o kaya bigyan ng pena na pera kung hindi tanggalin lamang sa puwesto. Kaya po ito ay hindi (provided for in the Constitution to determine if a President should stay in office or not. He should not be jailed or penalized but merely removed from his position. Therefore this is not a) criminal proceeding.
“Kaya naman po nang ginawa namin iyong (That is why when we worked on the) Rules of Impeachment ay sinunod namin ang (we followed the) Record of the Constitutional Commission na sa debate nga po ang aming nakita na ang sinabi ng gumawa ng ating Saligang Batas na ang (that in the pertinent debates we saw what the framers of the Constitution said, that the) Rules of Procedure and Rules of Evidence should be liberally construed. Sapagkat iyon pong mga bayani na naghanda at gumawa ng ating Sali-gang Batas ay alam po nila na ito ay hindi (Because those heroes that drafted the Constitution knew that this is not a) criminal proceeding, kung hindi isang (but rather a) political process. At iyan na nga po ang naging base ng aming (And this has become the basis of our) Rules of Proceedings.
“Bakit kaya gustong palabasin ng (Why would the) Prosecution at buksan itong (wish to open the) second envelope? Sapagkat mahalaga po, mahal na magistrado at mga kababayan, ayaw lang sabihin ng Depensa subalit kung hindi natin papayagan na mabuksan ang (Because it is important, although the Defense would not admit it, that if we do not allow the opening of the) second envelope, ang testigo ni (the testimony of) Clarissa Ocampo ay itatapon sa basura, kung hindi man, sa kangkungan. Sapagkat ang layunin ng (will be wasted. The objective of the) Prosecution ay tumupad sa obligasyon na sinabi ni (is to comply with the directive of the) Chief Justice na kailangang i-link ninyo, o isabit ninyo, o sabihin ninyo iyong (that there is need to connect the) P500 million na sinabi ni (mentioned by) Clarissa Ocampo dito ay galing sa (as having been sourced from) ill-gotten wealth. Kaya nga importante at mahalaga na ito na nga po ang obligasyon na gustong tuparin ng (So it is important and this is in keeping with the obligation that needs to be performed by the) Prosecution—to link that that P500 million is ill-gotten wealth. At iyan nga pong pagbubukas ng (And that the opening of the) second envelope ang magpapatunay (will prove it), according to the Prosecution.
“Ang sabi po ng mahal kong Propesor, ay dapat daw ang ating gagawin dito, ang maging batayan ay ang Konstitusyon. Tama po iyan, Propesor. Pero wala naman po sa Konstitusyon na sinasabing (My beloved Professor said that what we should must be based on the Constitution. But there is none in the Constitution that says) how do we prove the Articles of Impeachment. Iyan po ay nasa (It is in the) Rules of Impeachment na ginawa ng Senado (which the Senate promulgated). At ang (And the) Rules of Court po ay (is) suppletory in character whenever applicable. Sapagkat ang Saligang-Batas ay hindi naman naglalahad na (Because the Constitution does not say) ‘Okay, pagkatapos nang (after the) impeachment ay manggaling sa (will originate from the) House at naririto na sa Senado ay wala naman po sa Konstitusyon ang sinabing, “Papaano ninyo (and now it is here in the Senate and nothing in the Constitution says)… will prove, how will the House Prosecutor now prove the allegations in the Complaint or the ultimate facts?”’ Wala po sa Konstitusyon iyan, Propesor. Iyan po ay nasa (It is not in the Constitution, Professor. That is in the) Rules of Impeachment na aming ginawa (which we drafted). And the Rules of Court are suppletory in character.
“Kung hindi naman bomba ang labas niyan at wala namang sinasabi ang (If it is a dud and the) Prosecution, eh di, iyan po (has nothing to show for it, then this) will be held against the Prosecution at magtatagumpay ang (and this shall be as success for the) Defense. Pero, habang hindi natin nakikita ang laman ng (However, for as long as we do not see what’s in that) second envelope na iyan, habang hindi natin nakikita kung ano nga ba iyan, ano po ang sasabihin natin dito? Gaya po ng sinabi ko, alam na ng Depensa, alam na ng (for as long as we are unable to determine what it really is, what shall we say about it? Like I said, the Defense knows, the) Prosecution ang laman nitong (know the content of this) second envelope. Kami lamang yata rito ang hindi nakakaalam. Ang mga taong bayan na nakikinig sa atin at ngayon at nanonood ay hindi nila alam. Tama po ba iyan? Hindi naman ho tama na ang mga abogado ng (We members of the court seem to be the only ones who do not know what’s in it. The general public who are watching us right now do not know as well. Is it correct? It is not correct that counsels for the) Defense at mga abogado ng (and counsels for the) Prosecution ay alam ang laman ng (know the contents of the) second envelope, na kaming mga Senador ay hindi alam (while we Senators do not know)?
“I submit, Mr. Chief Justice, that the opening of the second envelope is relevant and material to the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo, that the P500 million was indeed of the President signing as Jose Velarde. And that it is relevant and material to prove as an obligation on the part of the Prosecution that such P500 million is part and parcel of an ill-gotten wealth, which is the ultimate fact sought to be proven in the second paragraph of Article 2 of the impeachment complaint.”
Davide: “Thank you. The Chair will now recognize the honorable Senator-Judge Enrile.”
Enrile: “Mr. Chief Justice, I’ll be very, very brief. I feel when I am standing in this Chamber this evening that I am actually facing the bar of history and the bar of public opinion. There is a certain amount of trepidation in my heart but nonetheless, I must perform my duty as I must being a member of this Chamber.
“Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice, I am not saying at this point that Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada is guilty of the charges against him. Neither am I saying that he is innocent. Not yet. What I am saying at this point, and this is the only issue before us, is that I cannot as a judge perform the function of the House of Representatives which has the sole power, authority and prerogative to prepare the Articles that will impeach the President. If indeed the President of the Philippines committed the alleged wrongdoings being imputed to him on the basis of the facts claimed to have been uncovered by the Prosecution after the Articles of Impeachment have been elevated to the Senate, then let the House of Representatives perform its constitutional duty to prepare a new set of Article or Articles of Impeachment to embody the newly discovered acts of alleged wrongdoing.
“To do otherwise, Mr. Chief Justice, and ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I humbly submit that this Senate acting as an Impeachment Court has no power under the Constitution to amend the Articles of Impeachment before us. It cannot constitu-tionally and validly perform the task lodged solely by the Constitution on the House of Representatives. To do that, to do so would be a total travesty of due process and a transgression of elementary fairness.
“You know, Mr. Chief Justice, ladies and gentlemen of this Chamber, we talk of discovering the truth. There are people in this Chamber who do not know the meaning of truth. One time, and I’ll tell you this, I was charged with a crime that was not even in our statute book—Rebellion Complexed with Murder. And my witness to the fact that I was innocent—and even the distinguished member of the Senate-Senator Cayetano knows about this and some gentlemen in this Chamber know about this—my witness was no less than a priest who was saying mass in my house at that very moment when they say that Senator Gringo Honasan, then Colonel Honasan was in my house with 100 soldiers at that precise moment for which I was framed and jailed with Rebellion Complexed with Murder in order to immobilize me. And you know what happened to Father Danilo Dagsaan, the priest? He was shipped out of this country by no less than Jaime Cardinal Sin, with the connivance and conspiracy of Presi-dent Corazon Aquino. And this is the opportune time, Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice, for me to put this in the annals and record of this Republic so that future historians will know the entire truth about this.”
Pimentel: “Thank you. Let’s have the next.”
Oreta: “Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
“Well, as correctly pointed out earlier by the Majority Floor Leader, Senator-Judge Francisco Tatad, the Articles of Impeachment is not an open-ended charge sheet which can be expanded from day to day to accommodate discoveries made by the Prosecution. Well, I agree that the Rules of Evidence should be liberally construed. I submit that liberal interpretation of the Rules should be consistent with the twin concepts of fair play and due process.
“Moreover, Mr. Chief Justice, we cannot close our eyes to the repercussion of the undue disclosure of bank records in pursuit of the Prosecution’s fishing expedition. And yesterday’s edition of the Philip-pine Daily Inquirer, an article in its front page read: ‘Equitable PCI Bank for Sale.’ In the article written by the reporter Clarissa Batino, she clearly states that an amount of at least P30 billion has been withdrawn from the bank significantly eroding its deposit base of P160 billion.
“I am alarmed, Mr. Chief Justice, of these develop-ments. If withdrawals continue not only in Equitable PCI Bank but for all other banks called upon by this honorable Impeachment Court to disclose their financial dealings, the net effect would be the destruction of our banking industry and in turn hammer another nail to our battered economy.
“This, Mr. Chief Justice, I cannot allow such a situation to occur. I cannot allow this Impeachment Court to be used as an instrument which causes the fall of our banking industry and may lead to our country’s financial ruin. I cannot and will not allow this Court, Mr. Chief Justice, to be used wittingly or unwittingly by the Prosecution in its fishing expedi-tion to the detriment of our country’s economy.
Davide: “Thank you. The honorable Senator-Judge John Osmeña.”
Osmeña: “Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. The whole country or maybe, perhaps even Filipinos in other countries are listening to us right now. And I wonder how many of them think, listening to our colleagues, that they are listening to a political rally or they are listening to a legal proceeding. Because the nature, Mr. Chief Justice and my dear colleagues, of what has been going on in this Chamber for the last month and a half, has really been an event which has, in effect, been an arena on two sides. On the one hand, you have the political arena.
“And Amado Doronilla correctly observed in a recent column of the Philippine Daily Inquirer that those who are opposed to the continued tenure of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada are winning the public opinion back. A very, shall we say, candid remark because he, in effect, is saying that what is going on is not really a trial for the impeachment of the President of the Philippines, but rather an effort to bring down the President, not by the constitu-tional processes that we are actively engaged in but through the bar of public opinion.
“And that perhaps, Mr. President, explains why many times in this Court there are statements by the Prosecution that it is making a proffer. It is announ-cing something that it will do to subpoena the records of Citibank because the President, his wife, the ladies that he is said to be associated with, as well as his so-called cronies, have accounts in Citibank. And immediately, the next day, almost all the newspapers are headlining: President Estrada, Mrs. Loi Ejercito Estrada, et cetera, et cetera, have accounts in Citibank. As if this was gospel truth.
“This is, of course, the arena of public opinion that is being fed by unsubstantiated loose remarks coming from the Prosecution within this Chamber. We are therefore being used, Mr. President. We are being used, we are being made puppets in a show to bring about the completion, the success of an agenda that is not provided for in the Constitution. And that is what really is the unfortunate thing of what is going on.
“Now, Mr. President, in this whole effort, members of the Senate are attacked by the Prosecution. There is scoreboard there right across our very par-king lot which ridicules us. Of course, those who are perceived to be not following the dictates of the mob.
“And, Mr. President, we ourselves have torn upon each other. And even in the lounge where we have our meriendas, you need not be perceptive to see how the groupings of the Senators sitting with each other no longer show the old environment of colle-giality that was present here. Nagkakampu-kampo na tayo doon sa (We have divided ourselves into camps at the) dining room. Those are, shall we say, the heavy burden that we have to bear as a result of what is going on. And I bewail this because it is unnecessary. And it would have been totally different if there had been no TV cameras in this Hall. It would have been totally different. And this is the result of all these cameras all over. Cameras picking on our feet, cameras trying to catch us asleep, cameras trying to catch us talking to each other, as if we were supposed to sit here like stupefied mummies listening to everything that is going on.
“And so, Mr. President, tonight we are here voting on a very simple question. I mean, this is a question that a judge in the Regional Trial Court rules on every day. This is a question that Justices of the Court of Appeals rule on. The rules are very simple, the rules are very clear, the facts are very clear, but because there is TV around, this has become a big spectacle.
“Mr. President, I would like to say that our vote tonight, even if some of us feel that they are casting their vote on the final judgment, is not really a vote on a final judgment. And the final judgment may or may not follow the result of the voting tonight. And there are those, I think it would be appropriate to say, who want to make a big issue out of this for their own purposes. So be it. For me, Mr. President and Mr. Chief Justice, this is just a simple vote on a simple procedural issue that is well—which is well-defined, provided for the Rules of Evidence and all the rules that we have been following.
“So, in conclusion, may I say, Mr. President and Mr. Chief Justice, what is this fuss all about? Thank you.”
Davide: “Thank you. The honorable Senator-Judge Drilon. After that, the honorable Senator-Judge Magsaysay.”
Drilon: “Mr. Chief Justice, my colleagues. It is quite unfortunate that my good friend, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, brought up the issue again, an incident in history that happened ten years ago. I will not deal at length on that point. I would rather just let history and our people decide on the action of the players at that time.
“But let me just state that in 1990, I was placed in a situation where I had to defend the existence of a duly constituted government. And therefore, I invoked the law and the legal processes in order to protect the duly constituted government. I did not take extralegal measures. I invoked a decision on the dissenting opinion in a case decided by the Supreme Court. We follow the law, we follow the Constitution. Let the people judge our action in history.
But having said that, Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice, let me now share my position insofar as this matter in issue at hand.
The issue here is whether or not envelope, or the contents of Envelope No. 2, is covered or covered by the Articles of Impeachment. It is argued that these are not covered by the Articles of Impeachment, and therefore it is immaterial and irrelevant as argued by the Prosecution [Defense – IA], as they have done in the past. In fact, Mr. Chief Justice, the phrase ‘irrelevance and immaterial’ would be the most popular phrase these days. Pumunta po kayo kahit saang (You go to any) party. And unang sasabihin sa inyo (the first greeting you get: ‘Objection, Your Honor, on ground that it is irrelevant and immaterial.’ Buong bansa po ay halos abogado na. Ngunit ito po ngayon ang tanong natin: Ito ba talaga ay (It seems everybody has become a lawyer. But this is our question now: Is it really) irrelevant and immaterial?
“Sa akin po, Kgg. na (For me, Honorable) Chief Justice, hindi po (it is not). At Kgg. na (And Hono-rable) Chief Justice, sinabi niya doon sa kaniyang (he said in his) extended opinion dated December 18, in ordering the opening of the first sealed envelope that the objection based on immateriality would be premature, and once the document obtained in connection therewith are formally offered in evi-dence, that is the time when objections on mater-iality can be, should be ruled upon. And, therefore, this issue has been ruled upon by the Chief Justice.
“Kaya nga po kanina, ay hiningi ko, kung pupuwede, na ang (That is why early on I asked, if it was possible, that the) Chief Justice muna ang siyang maghusga dito sa ating pinag-uusapan. Dahil ito po, (would first decide on this issue. Because the determination of) irrelevant and immaterial, ay isang patakaran sa husgado. At sino po ang maghuhusga? Sino po ang (is a judicial process. And who will judge? Who is the) most qualified to judge on relevance and immateriality? It is the Chief Justice. Kaya po aking hiniling kanina, kung maaari sana, na ang (That is why my request early on, if it was possible that the) Chief Justice, under Rule VI of our Rules, could first decide on this. Unfortunately, that was not possible because the motion had already been filed.
“Has this ruled upon by the Chief Justice? Yes, because on January 10, 2001, by order of the Chief Justice, this document was subpoenaed. On January 10, 2001, the Chief Justice, Chief Justice Davide, ordered, through a subpoena duces tecum ad testifi-candum, that documents related to Savings Account No. 016062501-5 be produced.
“Bakit po ayaw ng (Why the objection from the) Defense panel buksan ang pangalawang (on the request to open the second) envelope? Maliwanag po dahil ito ay pag-aari ni Presidente (The answer is clear, because the owner of the account is) Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Doon po sa (In) Exhibit ‘XXX’, isang sulat, na ang sabi ni (a letter, that according to) Ocampo, ay pinirmahan ni Pangulong (was signed by President) Estrada bilang (as) ‘Jose Velarde.’ Ang nakalagay doon (Written there was): ‘My Savings Account 016062501-5’ Iyan po ang sinabi ni (That’s what) Jose Velarde (said); iyan po ang sinabi ni Pangulong (that statement came from President) Estrada. Maliwanag po na ang (It is clear that this) account na ito ay pag-aari ni Pangulong (is owned by President) Estrada. Inamin po niya iyan, kaya po ayaw buksan ng Depensa iyan (He admitted to it, which is why the Defense does not want to open it). Grounds of relevance and materiality.
Mr. Chief Justice, my colleagues, Envelope No. 2 is relevant and material in our quest for truth. Envelope No. 2 is relevant and material for the credibility of this proceeding. Envelope No. 2 is relevant and material for the credibility of this Institution. Enve-lope No. 2 is relevant and material to the faith of our people in this democracy.
Davide: “Finally, the Chair recognizes the Hono-rable Senator-Judge Magsaysay.”
Magsaysay: “Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. Almost 50 years ago, there was an ordinary simple man who walked this same country and worked in the same government. He was an ordinary man, in the sense that he was not a lawyer, he was a mechanic. But because of his trustworthiness, people trusted him, he was able to become President. Unfortunately, that same man died in office, short of his four-year term, at the age of 49, and that man was my father, the late President Ramon Magsaysay.
“That’s why I’m here this evening, Mr. President, because of the name that my father carried with dignity and with honesty. So, it is an honor for me to be here in the Senate, to be one amongst the 22. The highest votes given by the public to the Senate, to a senator is maybe 15 million votes. Senator Roco, in 1995, having garnered close to 15 million votes, and the lowest among those of us must have garnered at least 7.5 million votes.
“All I am saying, Mr. President, is that the people voted for us—all 22 of us—because they trusted us. So, what is governance? We are looking at this issue of presidential leadership in crisis on the issue of governance. Because if we do not look at this moral principle of leadership, if we are going to get bogged down in technicalities and techniques and not subs-tance, then we will have lost the institution. We will have lost the reputation of us Senators being among the best and the brightest.
“The Senate has been the training ground for future leaders and even many Presidents. We look around us here, the Hall, the same Hall that we are in, produced good people like Benigno Aquino Jr., the older brother of our friend Tessie Aquino-Oreta. The same Senate Hall produced a Gerry Roxas who, in the martial law years, was able to say no to President Marcos. And I will read the rest of the roll call: Jose “Pepe” Diokno, if you remember, ‘a yellow ribbon around those trees’ Lorenzo Tañada, the father of our congressman, one of the Prosecution Congressmen, Bobby Tañada; Claro M. Recto; Jovy Salonga. These are just a few of those that have gone through the Senate and acquitted themselves because they carried the trust and did not fail the Filipino people.
“Why am I saying this, Mr. President? Because I am not a lawyer. I am an engineer. I was in business for 25 years until I was asked by President Ramos to run for the Senate. And I was honored because I was given the same mandate as each and every one of us here was given the same mandate.
So, what am I saying, Mr. President? This is the issue on moral principles of governance. The principles of governance which is justice, equity, openness, honesty, integrity, trust. These are the things that you should ask for and not be looking at techniques. The techniques of law, as my good friend here, says, ‘Gobbledygook and lots of gibberish.’
“You look at yourself in the mirror every morning and look at your conscience. If you will be able to look at yourself in the morning and say you have done good to the country and for your people, then you have respected yourself.
“So, Mr. President, this proceeding has become too politicized because a lot of us here–maybe even me–have become partial. We have prejudged this issue. But the main issue is, is this person in Malacañang fit to be President? Because I, my father sacrificed his life just like Tañada, Gerry Roxas, Ninoy Aquino, sacrificed their lives. If you will vote according to politics, that is in your conscience.”
Davide: “Thank you. The honorable Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor Santiago and after that, the honorable Senator-Judge Honasan.”
Santiago: “Mr. Chief Justice, I love a good debate just like the next lawyer. But tonight, I am tired of all these disputation. I am weary. I want to go home to the love of my family. Yet, as a trained lawyer, and as an advocate and disciple of the rule of law, I know that it is my duty to stand up tonight and affirm the fact that a society of love can exist only if it is protected by the rule of law.
“The law is not a litany or a series of technicality, an impression that we might have gathered from what has been said in this Hall today. The law is the very basis of the social contract that pulls the Filipinos together and renders them one nation.
“Long, long ago, the most famous litigant in the entire history of the human race was asked by this judge: ‘Is it not true that you claim to be the king?’ And the litigant who was not a trained lawyer stared into the face of his tormentor and said: ‘What is the truth?’ For there are many truths. There are many reality.
“I stand for the rule of law as I see it according to the light that has been given to me by my Creator. No person, no group, no sector of society has a monopoly of the truth or of the law. That is why we must learn to accept each other’s convictions and that is why I intend that, together with the rest of my colleagues, whom I hope will do likewise, I intend to vote out of a sense of the shared destiny of the Filipino people.
Davide: “Thank you. Finally, the honorable Senator-Judge Honasan.”
Honasan: “Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Senate President, my distinguished colleagues, I was almost disap-pointed that everything I wanted to say was said in more eloquent terms by the Honorable Judge-Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. But I have very little to add.
“Mr. Chief Justice, to me this is all about the rules and following them. The ultimate rule is the Philippine Constitution. When I rose in rebellion against three Presidents, and what I perceived then to be corrupt and inefficient governments, everybody told me that I had violated the Constitution and my oath of office as a soldier.
“Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice, whether we open the second envelope or not, the truth cannot be suppressed to the Filipino people. So, instead of spending time trying to defend the Constitution, I think we should all try to follow it first.”
Davide: “Thank you. Anybody else?” [Silence]
“The Chair would like to motu proprio order a suspension for ten minutes.”
It was 9:12 P.M. Trial resumed at 9:34 P.M.
Davide: “The trial is now resumed. There is a pending motion now duly seconded on the issue of whether or not to open the second envelope.
“The Honorable Senator-Judge Loren Legarda-Leviste.”
Leviste: “Mr. Chief Justice, may I inquire at this point in time whether it would be possible for the Presiding Officer to render–”
Davide: “A ruling?”
Leviste: “–a ruling despite the fact that a motion to vote has been raised by a Senator-Judge? May I just inquire?”
Davide: “Unless that motion duly seconded is withdrawn, the Chair cannot because the initial authority of the Presiding Officer had been pre-empted by that motion duly seconded.”
Tatad: “Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “Yes, the Majority Leader.”
Tatad: “Mr. Chief Justice, as movant of the motion, I believe we have gone too far. I believe we have gone too far. We have heard almost everyone speak to the motion, and it’s time to vote.”
Davide: “So, let’s vote now. This should be a roll call vote.”
- Osmeña: “Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “The honorable Senator-Judge Sergio Osmeña III.”
- Osmeña: “May I respectfully move for a nominal vote.”
Davide: “Roll call vote. Nominal voting. The issue is whether or not to open the second envelope. To open, the vote should be yes. Not to open, the vote should be no. Is that clear?
“To open, the vote should be yes, and a vote of not to open, the vote should be no.
“The Secretary will now call the roll for the nominal voting.”
Atty. Reyes, Acting Secretary: “Honorable Senator-Judges
Davide: “Slowly, slowly, please.”
|Atty. Reyes: “Cayetano:.…||Yes|
|“The Senate President….||Yes|
Davide: “What’s the vote of the Senate President?”
Pimentel: “May I explain my vote.”
Davide: “The Senate President may explain his vote.”
Pimentel: “I vote to open the second envelope. I vote to do so because that is the only way to determine whether or not the contents of the envelope are relevant or material to the case at bar. Because of this development, Mr. Chief Justice, I realize that the no’s have it. And therefore, I resign my presidency of the Senate as soon as my successor is elected.”
Davide: “Let us first announce the vote. [Applause] You have 10 yes votes and 11 no votes. The no votes have it.”
Tatad: “Mr. Chief Justice, before we adjourn, I move that we now approve the Journals of the Impeachment Court of January 11 and 12, 2001, respectively.”
Davide: “Any objection? [Silence] There being none, the motion is approved.”
Arroyo: “Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “The Honorable Prosecutor Arroyo.”
Arroyo: “The Prosecution reserves its right to take whatever course we have to make and to report the matter to the House of Representatives.”
Davide: “The reservation is noted.”
Tatad: “Mr. Chief Justice.”
Davide: “The Majority Leader.”
Tatad: “I move that the Impeachment Court now stand on recess until two o’ clock tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday, January 17, 2001.”
Davide: “Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the motion is approved. The trial is suspended until tomorrow at two o’clock in the afternoon.”
Trial suspended at 9:41 P.M.
Prosecutors walked out
But before any formal suspension of the trial could be declared by Davide, something unexpected has already marred the proceedings. Members of the prosecution team, as soon as Davide announced the result of the voting, grabbed their things, stood up, took random steps, then left, heading for the exit.
The Senate’s session hall was in disarray. Most of the senators also stood up and converged according to their affiliation at the middle of the session hall. One majority member, Senator Oreta, could be seen having an impromptu ballroom jig, with obvious delight. Some members of the minority went up the podium to hug Pimentel, whose vote must have been a letdown for those who elected him to the top Senate post. The gallery added ruckus to the unexpected turn of events, as some joined the prosecutors in protest, and others erupted in jubilation.
Erap Falls, GMA Rises
“Go to EDSA. Rally going on…”
Or (during the days leading to the trial): “Rally going on. Go down and be counted.”
These and similar text messages (as Filipinos call them) beeped from one cellphone to another. Hundreds, then thousands, would find themselves receiving and sending the same message through their hand-held phones.
Like on cue, thousands converged at EDSA Shrine (site of what had been called People Power—but would now be referred to as People Power 1—that sent Ferdinand Marcos flying out—via helicopter—of Malacañang in 1986) within minutes of the Senate’s voting against the opening of the second envelope.
Once more, the ‘Erap Resign’ trumpet blared. It was not as if, in weeks just past, the noise had dropped to yawning levels; rather it was that, this time, vocal motors were revving up.
For 4 days—from 17 to 20 January 2001—streets in Metro Manila and major cities around the country once more became protest sites. The end Erap’s reign as President of the country was within sight.
On the night of 16 January 2001, tens of thousands had massed at the EDSA Shrine, site of People Power 1. The next day, the protesters swelled to half a million at any given time. On the third day, 19 January 2001, close to a million protesters erupted in approval as the police and military brass, led by Ping Lacson and Angelo Reyes, respectively, joined them at EDSA and expressed their withdrawal of support for the Estrada government. On January 20, 2001, then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilarion Davide as the new President of the Philippines, replacing Erap. A few hours earlier, the Supreme Court had ruled that the Office of the President was vacant. Hours later, Erap left Malacañang.
The EDSA 2 believers
Aside from those who pressed Erap to resign via street protests (they could have numbered to a few million people, those in other major cities outside of Metro Manila included), there were analysts of note who found merit in People Power 2 (or EDSA 2) and the events that led to it.
In one of his Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) column, Randy David, who is also a University of the Philippines sociology professor, said that the Erap impeachment trial was “one great education” for the country. He made a point about witnesses like Clarissa Ocampo (who testified that she witnessed Erap signing as Jose Velarde his bank accounts with PCI Equitable Bank), Emma Lim and former Finance Secretary Edgardo Espiritu, among many others, who “gave the concept of citizenship and patriotism, which have long eluded Filipinos.” Risking their careers and even lives, these prosecution witnesses went on record as having been prompted to testify in the trial for love of country and fellow Filipinos.
David thought that through People Power 2, Filipinos had asserted their belief in the highest ideals of justice and integrity. “It was a moral revolution,” he said.
Conrado de Quiros, another PDI columnist, wrote that “People Power 2 was no ordinary event that brought Arroyo to power, this was people power in the truest, purest, sense of the word, a people discovering and reco-vering through education and action their power to right wrongs and build new worlds.”
In a speech (the full text of which was published by the Manila Bulletin on 22 February 2001), delivered on receiving a “Tanglaw ng Bayan” award from the Society of Jesus, former President Cory Aquino explained, among other things, that EDSA 2 was about democracy correcting itself. Excerpts of that speech:
“Fifteen years after bloodlessly booting out a president who turned into a dictator, the Filipino people ousted a popularly elected president who succumbed to insatiable greed.
“We call this people power, and see it as the activation of the sovereign clause of a democratic Constitution, which says that sovereignty resides in the people and all power comes from them.
“Once in a while, in compelling circumstances, the people feel like taking back this power. It happens when the institutions of democracy fail to deliver democratic government or when the law defeat rather than achieves its proper aim of justice.”
Recalling the impeachment trial that led to Erap’s ouster, she said:
“It was like taking a course in political science, with a major in political responsibility. Let me say that the people graduated with top honors. They threw out the President when his allies in the Senate voted to suppress the evidence.
“As if on a given signal, an outraged citizenry in the middle of the night converged at the Shrine of Our Lady of EDSA. They went to show their anger at the treachery of the eleven senators. They went to show their conviction of the President’s guilt. Above all, they came to pray together for a just resolution of the crisis of government.”
Cory acknowledged that EDSA 2 had been criticized for the process it went through. And to them she suggested a re-evaluation was in order:
“They called it ‘mob rule,’ a ‘virtual coup d’etat,’ ‘undemocratic’ and ‘unconstitutional.’
“Was it mob rule? Did we preempt the Constitution?
“We gave the Constitution every chance to work; we gave the President every chance to defend himself.
“In a Constitution providing for a single term for the president, the way to change him is not by waiting for him to step down at the end of his term. That is not changing; that is waiting.
“The Constitution provides for ways to remove him before the end of his term: by resignation, by leave of absence, and by impeachment. The first two depend on his sense of propriety and do not work when he has none. The third depends on the integrity of the legislature.
“Not surprisingly, the President himself recom-mended his own impeachment. But when he was impeached he did everything to undermine the impeachment process by blocking the evidence.
“What then were the people to do?
“To sit back and wait for the next elections made nonsense of the constitutional provision for the removal of a president guilty of impeachable offenses. The only recourse was to enforce the impeachment in the streets after its failure in the Senate. That is what the people did.”
On portrayals of a typical conflict that pitted the rich (representing “the mob”) against the poor (representing Erap’s supporters), De Quiros dismissed the notion that EDSA 2 was devoid of analytical underpinning. He said: “The multitude that massed at EDSA—and who will continue to mass there for as long as injustice runs rife—is not possessed of an uncritical mind that can be impressed by a slogan or two, a promise or two, a trick or two.”
Erap miscalculated twice
The foregoing narrative supports the notion that Erap’s ouster happened not only because people awoke one day to find out there was a need to reclaim power from those they elected to office, but also because the guy seemed stupid from the very start, which quite simply was a candid way of saying Erap helped depose Erap.
One could tell that Erap blundered in at least two occasions. First, he appeared to have thought that a fallout with Chavit was the least risky among all possible threats to whatever stability his administration still enjoyed up to that point. And, second (a word of caution here: just where he stood on the issue could solely be a reflection of the advice he got from allies he trusted), the misreading of possible reactions to the decision by majority senators to vote against the opening of the second envelope.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, as the saying goes, was, from Chavit’s perspective, Erap’s favoring Atong Ang on the Bingo 2 Balls fiasco. Aides tried to show to Erap the gravity of Chavit’s grievances and his threat to expose the president. They did not succeed; Erap, perhaps confronted with difficult choices, forgot that his now former friend had survived not only the Crisologos and Marcos, but also multiple attempts on his life, as the succeeding chapters will show. Erap’s dumping of Chavit showed his low regard for how the past can predict the future: that Chavit won over adversities then, that he was likely to win a fight even against a president now.
In the middle of the night of 3 October 2000, an attempt on his life that Chavit said was an offshoot of his fallout with Erap changed the course of Philippine history in a way that nobody could have expected.
Ernesto Maceda, former Senator and serving as Philippine Ambassador at the time of the Senate trial, reflected on what happened through his Manila Bulletin column on 13 February 2001:
“When political analysts gather, the most popular question is what brought Erap down? Asked to name 3 major reasons, the consensus shows the following:
“1. Atong Ang—after being told to lie low at the start, why did he suddenly resurface as Jai-Alai owner and PAGCOR consultant? His arrogance ignited the Chavit problem.
“2. The lavish mansions—whose fault is it? The ladies? It was the talk of the cocktail circuit.
“3. Picking a fight with FVR—who convinced Erap this was a good thing to do? The State of the Nation salvo was a declaration of war, FVR had no choice but to fight back.”
Post mortem analysts could add at least three stinging blows that knocked Erap out of Malacañang, viz:
- Erap being Erap;
- The “mob;” and
- Text messaging.
Randy David described Erap and his leadership as incompetent, stupid, ignorant, boozing, womanizing, corrupt, and fool. That Erap was therefore bound to self-destruct was not a question of why, but rather a matter of when.
The government became easy target for plotters.
The Washington Post quoted retired Air Force General Ed Abenina as saying: “The Filipino people like to call it ‘people power,’ but in fact it was a coup. It was the over-throw of the government.”
The Los Angeles Times also quoted another military man, former Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat, who reportedly admitted that “he (Abat) has been plotting the coup for months,” long before Chavit came out with his exposē.
In other words, rumors at that time about nooses having been wrapped around Erap’s neck were, in fact, true; that Chavit was the knife that cut the rope, tightening their grip; and that the rest of the mob was the sink stone that ensured Erap would be buried deep into his political grave.
The mob in this context would best be taken to mean as an ad hoc process of destabi-lizing existing political order, with a view of changing leadership in national government, and under conditions that undermined established constitutional and legal proce-dures. Movers behind this mob, according to observers, would include the Makati businessmen, a partisan public, the young, the rich and the restless—all supporting the military and the forces of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
And let not this heretofore unknown political player be forgotten: text messaging.
Revolt of the middle class
In 2001, cellphones were already popular and must-have luxuries in the Philippines. Unlike today (2017), however, only the relatively well-off among a population of roughly 77 million could afford to buy a cell phone. That is why EDSA2 (also called People Power 2) is sometimes referred to as revolt of the middle class. The typical profile of a protester would be that of a young career person, wearing t-shirts and jeans, pounding on the keyboards of a cellphone.
Pundits at the time joked about how revolutionaries kept themselves up to the task. Then, the advice was “keep your powder dry.” Now, they exhorted to “keep your cellphones charged.”
Writing for The Independent London, Richard Parry wrote in a 20 January 2001 article:
“The demonstrators at the EDSA Shrine had all the traditional accoutrements of protesters throughout history—flags, banners bearing wittily offensive slogans, whistles and klaxons. But the most characteristic image of People Power 2 was that of a young Filipino in T-shirt and jeans, frowning down—not speaking—into a phone.
“‘This is my second revolution, and it’s been so much better than the first,’ said one middle-aged lady on Saturday, just after the jubilant announcement that Mr. Estrada was leaving the Malacañang presidential palace. ‘Faster, more spontaneous, and a younger crowd. And it wouldn’t have happened without those things.’
“For hours at a time, the networks were overloaded with the text traffic. The television stations reported the latest messages as news. Early yesterday morning, Mr. Estrada’s respected Vice President, Gloria Macapagal, arrived at the palace for her first working day as his successor.”
Even before that fateful night of 16 January 2001, text messaging had been an x-factor for the anti-Erap campaign.
An article by Michael Zielenziger on 10 December 2000 (or 3 days since the impeachment trial began), titled “Cell phones play key role in Estrada impeach-ment,” for the Knight Rider Newspapers/ Tribune News Service, is re-printed below:
“MANILA, Philippines—While famous Filipinos delivered fiery verbal assaults last week against embattled President Joseph Estrada at a giant bay-front rally, Ellen Santiago had no hands free to applaud. Her thumbs were too busy ‘texting.’
“Like thousands of others in the crowd, Santiago glanced up only occasionally as former President Corazon Aquino and the city’s powerful Roman Catholic archbishop, Jaime Cardinal Sin, deman-ded Estrada’s resignation. Instead of cheering, she stared down at her cell phone and jammed away with her thumbs as she received and sent tiny electronic messages—‘texting,’ as Filipinos call it.
“‘It’s a little embarrassing that I’m texting so much,’ admitted Santiago, who works for a real estate investment company. Then her phone beeped again to signal the arrival of yet another mini-mailgram. ‘I have friends somewhere in this rally, and we’re trying to find each other.’
“While Americans might be glued to cable news channels to watch the latest developments in the presidential vote, Filipinos are staring at their phones. Lounging in coffee houses and hotel lobbies or marching against Estrada, Manila’s young middle-class has made wireless text-messaging the cutting-edge way to trade political gossip, debate strategy or tell jokes as the movement to oust Estrada gains momentum.
“This new technology is having a huge impact. The speed and ‘cycle-time’ that text messaging brings to political discussion has accelerated political debate and exacerbated the crisis of legitimacy Estrada now faces, analysts said.
“‘Text messaging explains the swiftness with which consensus formed within the mobile-phone posses-sing classes against the president,’ said Alex Magno, a political analyst and a professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines. ‘Before it took us eight weeks just to set up and coordinate a single national protest action. This Estrada corruption scandal broke just eight weeks ago, and already he’s been impeached and put on trial.’
“‘The information just moves very quickly now,’ Magno added. ‘The text messages telescope the time needed to create a middle-class consensus.’
“The Philippines, home to both the ‘Love Bug’ computer virus and its antidote, is an English-speaking nation that has been captured by the information technology craze.
“Some Filipinos use cell phones merely to set up social meetings. But savvy organizers trade investigative tips as they fan out around the city trying to collect more evidence against Estrada, who is charged with siphoning off gambling proceeds and raking in nearly $12 million from a government tax on tobacco. His corruption trial—the first impeachment case ever launched against an Asian head of state—began last Thursday.
“‘Messaging has become a very important tool in organizing people and planning marches,’ said Arnel Galgo, a labor organizer who uses the text-messaging system to help plan anti-Estrada demonstrations and set up strategy sessions. ‘It has a real multiplier effect when you want to spread the word, and it’s much cheaper than using the phone,’ he said.
“‘I don’t think Estrada realizes the brigades are actually the e-groups,’ Magno said.
Text messaging allows a cell-phone user to paw at the tiny keypad on the phone to type in a short message and dispatch it to one or dozens of other cell phone users. Though typing is usually done with the thumbs, the generation of 20-year olds that grew up with video games seems to have little difficulty generating three or four messages in a minute by pounding furiously on their keyboards.
“While a cell phone call can cost as much as 8 pesos (1.6 cents) per minute, sending a text message often costs only 1 peso. Some phone providers offer text messaging for free as an incentive to sign up for phone service, although no one seemed to anticipate its potentially subversive uses.
Pollster Felipe Miranda said the text messaging revolution also demonstrates how a serious digital divide has emerged in the Philippines—and says the pro-Estrada’s forces have failed to appreciate the rising potency of those who wield cell phones.
“‘Right now it’s the most important organizing tool, and the Malacañang (presidential) Palace doesn’t appreciate how powerful it has become,’ Miranda said. ‘The opposition is much more wired, much more connected, and this makes them much more formidable at recruiting supporters and organizing protests. It allows them to pursue their causes much more effectively’ in a poor country where a home computer is still a rare luxury.
“The Estrada forces, by contrast, haven’t crossed the digital divide. ‘You won’t find e-mail used effectively by the Erap camp,’ Miranda said. ‘They don’t have interesting Web sites. I don’t think they understand it.’
“ ‘This digital divide along class lines—the cell phone is not for the poor man, Miranda said—also explains why Estrada remains popular among the nation’s peasants while the middle and upper classes have decided he must go. Miranda’s Asia Pulse poll, released just before the trial started, found that while nearly 50 % of those with a college degree want to oust the president, only 20 % of those with only an elementary school education want him to quit.
“The gusher of information that bombards cell phone users such as Santiago is one reason for the gap. A junior manager who doesn’t consider herself a political activist, the 34-year-old said she receives about 80 text-messages per day, many of them greetings or invitations to meet with friends.
“Tito Osias, however, uses the cell phone as his chief political weapon. An anti-Estrada activist, he uses his phone to help gather dirt on the embattled president.
“‘Here, let me show you the message I just got,’ Osias said, handing over his slim, silver Nokia phone. The message reads: ‘Erap gets kickbacks each time the government releases money to Veterans Bank through director Pilarcia Ejercito, Erap’s sister.’
“Osias then sends a text-message to a friend familiar with Manila’s banking industry, asking his source to confirm that the president’s sister is a director of Veterans Bank. Within 45 minutes a terse reply comes back: ‘Pilarcia director of PVB confirmed.’
“‘We now have 4 million cell phones in the country, and each one is a receiver and a transmitter of information,’ said Magno, the sociologist. ‘That’s why there is such a disparity in attitudes between the digitally enabled and the digitally disabled. The consensus against the president was first formed in multimedia’ and by the middle class, he added. ‘Eventually, the normal people and the mainstream media will catch up.’
“The only problem with the new technology, organizers said, is that text messaging can also circulate bad rumors, a development that would not surprise any Internet user. ‘It’s definitely helpful,’ says Risa Hortiveros, who helps organize anti-Estrada protests for an umbrella movement of social causes. ‘But sometimes you spend a lot of time telling people the texts they’re getting just aren’t true.’
Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s article on the same date for Washington Post, titled “Philippine Activism, At Push of a Button; Technology Used to Spur Political Change,” brought more of the same sight to the fore, portions of which are re-printed below:
“At 11 a.m. on a recent workday, Christina Bautista picked up her sleek, gray Nokia mobile telephone to help organize a protest calling for the resignation of Philippine President Joseph Estrada. But instead of making calls, she composed a short text message on the tiny rubber keypad.
“‘Rally at noon,’ she wrote. ‘Go down and be counted.’
“Then, by pecking a few buttons, Bautista zapped her exhortation to dozens of friends who work in nearby high-rise office buildings. Within minutes, almost all of the recipients were punching keys on their phones to forward the note to their friends, who in turn passed it on to hundreds more people.
“An hour later, Manila’s financial district was packed with thousands of phone-toting professionals urging Estrada to step down over allegations that he pocketed almost $12 million in bribes.
“For the past two months, opposition groups have been raising the political pressure on Estrada with a combination of old-fashioned activism and new technology, using text messages sent on mobile phones to organize what people here call ‘instant protests.’
“Accelerating to Internet time something that used to take organizers weeks to plan, often-boisterous demonstrations can jell here in less than a few hours as word goes out over an informal phone tree to office workers, housewives and students.
“‘It’s like pizza delivery,’ said Alex Magno. ‘You can get a rally in 30 minutes—delivered to you.’
“‘It’s an incredibly powerful tool,’ Bautista said of her phone. ‘Without it, there’s no way we could have gotten so many people together so quickly.’
“Today, Filipinos send an estimated 45 million text messages a day, more than double the entire combined volume of such messages in every other country in the world. The country of 76 million people has more mobile phones (about 4 million) than fixed-line units (about 3 million).
“Political analysts say the fast pace of demonstrations—coupled with an incessant electronic barrage of news blurbs, gossip and jokes about Estrada, all composed in 160 characters or less—has been instru-mental in galvanizing broad legislative support for the president’s ouster. Estrada was impeached by the House of Represen-tatives last month, and his trial in the Senate began last Thursday.
“The protests, analysts say, have helped to speed up the impeachment process: The trial is beginning just two months after Estrada was accused of bribery. In the 1980s, Marcos was able to hang on to power for almost three years after he became widely suspected of ordering the assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino, the event that sparked a popular revolt against his rule. At that time, opposition leaders had to rely on mimeo-graphed fliers and low-power ham radio transmitters clandestinely installed in cars.
“Bautista, 32, an associate in a large accounting firm who joined the opposition movement a few weeks ago, said the messaging technology has given rise not just to a new type of protest, but also to a new breed of protester.
“‘It’s a great way to get people who are in offices involved,’ she said. ‘They don’t have to spend all day protesting. They just get a message telling them when it’s starting, and then they take the elevator down to the street. They can be seen, scream a little and then go back to work.’ ”
Gloria and the mob
Despite what amounted to consent by the Supreme Court, the manner by which national leadership changed from Erap to GMA was assailed by some quarters, especially foreign media.
Syth Mydans of New York Times, in a 5 February 2001 article titled “‘People Power 2’ Doesn’t Give Filipinos the Same Glow” in part wrote:
“Fifteen years ago, Filipinos braved tanks and threats in a “people power” revolution to bring down a dictator who had stolen an election, and to restore democracy after two decades of martial law.
“Last month, in what Filipinos are calling People Power II, huge crowds again forced a president from office. As before, it was an emotional outpouring, with songs and raised fists.
“But there were crucial differences that have cast doubt on the dedication of Filipinos to democratic processes, and to their chagrin, Filipinos have drawn not praise but censure from abroad.
“Filipinos were thrilled at the peaceful ouster of a president who had become an embarrassment—a lazy, hard-drinking womanizer who had allowed the economy to collapse and had, according to testimony in the Senate, engaged in systematic corruption.
“But if they expected cheers once again from around the world, they were instead hurt and infuriated when People Power II was met with doubt and criticism, described by foreign commentators as ‘a defeat for due process,’ as ‘mob rule,’ as ‘a de facto coup’.”
The Associated Press quoted Singapore Senior Leader Lee Kuan Yew as saying: “I don’t think it was a plus for the democratic system.”
William H. Overholt, writing for International Herald Tribune, felt equally disappointed. His article on 24 January 2001 titled “It’s ‘People Power’ Again, but This Time without the People,” essayed how one differed from the other:
“One of the things missing in the so-called People Power 2 movement that forced the removal of President Joseph Estrada last weekend is people power. Right up until the overthrow, the polls showed that the majority of Filipinos opposed Mr. Estrada’s impeachment trial for corruption and abuse of power. People Power 1, which forced President Ferdinand Marcos to step down in 1986, was different.
“Filipinos had voted against Mr. Marcos in an election. They were angry when he fiddled the numbers and got caught. People Power 1 validated an election. People Power 2 invalidated an election.
“Mr. Estrada was elected president in 1998 with the largest vote total in Philippine history. The decisive moment 15 years ago came when demonstrations in the streets of Manila blocked the tanks and rendered the military impotent. The decisive moment in People Power 2 came when the armed forces chief of staff, General Angelo Reyes, an open supporter of Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, defected with key commanders to join the opposition.
“There were a lot of demonstrations, just as in People Power 1, but this was a de facto military coup, with only broad upper- and middle-class support. The difference between what happened in the Philippines the other day and what occurred in 1986 will be a problem for Mrs. Arroyo, who was sworn in as the new president by the Supreme Court.
“The fact that Mr. Estrada did not flee into exile, as Mr. Marcos did, foreshadows difficulties to come. Mr. Marcos had to flee because he had no support. Mr. Estrada has a broad base of support. Even if he is tried for ordinary crimes and jailed, he will retain lots of support, especially among the poor masses who believe that he is being victimized by the rich and powerful because he came from their ranks and stood on their side.
“Already young military officers are expressing discontent with their chief. Already lawyers are asking questions about the way the Supreme Court was stampeded into seating the new president. The left is saying that it was right for Mr. Estrada to be forced out but unconstitutional for the new president to be installed this way.
“Such questions did not arise after the ouster of Mr. Marcos. Nobody can doubt the degree to which the evidence presented at his trial discredited Mr. Estrada. Nor can anybody doubt the moral and political culpability of the 11 senators who voted last week not to examine crucial evidence against him.
“But the legitimacy of the Philippine system rests on support for democracy. If the views of a majority don’t count, then democracy doesn’t count. Filipinos take their elections very seriously the poor just as much as the rich. In their eyes, rejection of Mr. Estrada’s proposal for an early presidential election in May in which he would not run, however self-serving it may have been, confirmed rejection of the democratic mechanism by politicians who had equally self-serving reasons in wanting to grab the presidency without facing voters who had shown strong support for the incumbent.
“The euphoria in Manila will last for a while. But democracy and the rule of law have been weakened in the Philippines, and class struggle has been sharpened…”
And so it happened that, while GMA’s ascent to power was swift and easy—like delivering a child on the seventh month minus the labor pains—her government had to go through all sorts of strife. Like many premature babies, her reign had inborn defects.
She faced a dilemma on what to do with Erap. On the one hand, a big chunk of “the mob” demanded his punishment. On the other hand, the military brass that gave her the silver platter, so to speak, could be assumed to remain indebted to Erap. Reports at the time came out that Angelo Reyes, appointed by Erap as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and went on to seamlessly join GMA’s cabinet as Secretary of the Department of National Defense, wanted no less than clemency for the former boss.
Concerns over stability of the Arroyo adminis-tration were not, as Overholt noted, without basis. From Day One, her government had to parry destabilization plots one after another. Her rule got so rocky that, in an attempt to placate her partisan detractors, she vowed on national TV that she would not run in the 2004 presidential elections. She however eventually did run, and won (aided, so some people charged, by massive cheating).
Rappler’s Maria Ressa chimed in with a relatively new piece, titled “#EDSA30: The Parody of People Power,” dated 26 February 2017, which brought back glimpses of what happened during those history-altering events. She said, in part:
“People Power 2 was tainted by a key difference from the first: the protests that brought Mrs. Arroyo to power deposed a duly elected president, not a dictator. That would haunt the first few months of her presidency as Estrada’s supporters tried to launch people power 3 against her on May 1, 2001, blurring the lines further between people power and mob rule. Filipino society split on economic lines: Estrada’s supporters came from the bottom rung, while Mrs. Arroyo was backed by the middle and elite classes. She survived the split, but the damage was done, and she said she was forced to compromise in order to hold her unwieldy coalition together.
“Although she won her own mandate in the May 2004 elections, even that was questioned after wiretapped telephone conversations were released to the media, raising charges of election cheating, charges Mrs. Arroyo denies. But those tapes triggered impeachment processes which have kept her constantly battling. This is a presidency under relentless siege.”
Erap’s mess and Gloria’s woes
Aside from the legal, political and economic issues that GMA had to resolve moving forward, Erap left the seat of power with high-profile unsolved cases. These included the Dacer-Corbito murder case and the Rizal Day bombings.
We recall that Former SEC chairman Perfecto Yasay, Jr., when he testified during the Erap impeachment trial, linked the Dacer abduct-tion to the to the stock manipulation scandal involving the gaming firm BW Resources.
Replying to Sen. Loren Legarda-Leviste’s questions, Yasay said Dacer was about to testify before the Senate tribunal when still-unidentified armed men abducted Dacer and his driver, Manuel Corbito, along the South Superhighway in Manila on Nov. 24.
Yasay said Dante Tan, BW owner and one of Erap’s friends, tried to pressure him to clear Tan stock manipulation charges. Yasay also disclosed that Erap offered to support him in the event Yasay would decide to run for Congress as representative of the first district of Davao City in the coming May 14, 2001 elections.
To refresh the reader’s memory on the Dacer-Corbito case, re-printed below is a time line consolidated by www.abs-cbnnews.com:
October 1997: Eduardo “Moonie” Lim, Jr. is presi-dent of BW Resource Corp. with 1,000 shares.
5 March 1998: Best World Construction Corp. app-lies for SEC registration. No exact mailing address was specified in their document.
9 March 1998: Francis A. Ablan is treasurer of BW Resource Corp. with 10,000 shares. Owen Carsi Cruz is Director of BW Resource Corp with 10,000.
8 April 1998: Dante Tan is elected by share subscr-ibers of BW Cons. Corp. as treasurer of the corpo-ration.
Eswaran signs affidavit that he is an alien who subs-cribed 40,625 shares worth P40,625.
24 April 1998: Tan deposits P61,719.00 to Bank of the Philippine Islands in behalf of Best World Cons. Corp., which is in the process of incorporation.
30 April 1998: Best World Cons. Corp.’s corporate name is certified by SEC. In the records, it says that BestWorld Resource Corp. is the closest name.
June 1998: Joseph Ejercito Estrada takes his oath of office as President of the Philippines. Tan tells friends that he was one of the first Chinese Filipinos to have bet on Estrada’s presidential bid, and had been delivering funds long before May 1998. He was listed as a contributor to Estrada’s presidential campaign. As soon as Estrada took his oath of office in June 1998, PAGCOR signed an agreement with BW, promising to transfer its corporate offices and three casinos to Sheraton Manila, BW’s planned entertainment and gaming complex in Manila.
7 July 1998: Best World Construction Corp. is regis-tered with the SEC.
SEC verifies the name BW Gaming and Entertain-ment (BWGE) Corp. unused. BWGE’s name, the document says, appears to be similar to BW Resource Corp.
16 July 1998: Incorporators are Dato’ Kethees-waran (Kenneth Eswaran), Dante Tan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Jose Salvador M. Rivera, Jr. and Francis Ablan.
Ketheeswaran, who is a Malaysian, has 40,625 shares. Tan has 40,623 shares. Rivera and Ablan have one share. JV Ejercito is the largest shareholder with 43,750 shares.
Eswanar signs affidavit that he is a foreigner with P50,000 worth shares in BWGE
Teresita Tan is treasurer of BWGE. She deposits P100,000 to Allied Bank as their corporation’s paid-up capital stock.
In the document, “Foreign equity is 32.5%, with affidavit of non registration.”
11 August 1998: BWGE Corporation is registered with SEC under the name BW Gaming and Entertainment Corp.
Dante Tan and his wife Teresita subscribed 50,000 shares, Agnes Maranan has 25,000 shares, Jose Salvador Rivera, Jr. is the largest shareholder with 75,000 and Malaysian Dato’ K. Ketheeswaran (Kenneth Eswaran) with 50,000 shares are listed as incorporators and directors of BWGE.
4 November 1998: P132,861,890 worth of shares has been paid for the subscription of P150 million worth of shares.
17 November 1998: BWGE wants to add P499 M worth of capital stock to their P1 M capital stock.
17 November 1998: Breakdown of Cash Account of BWGE: 2 from Metrobank with C/A 7073504836 worth P5,000 and S/A 3076504830 worth P61, 038,444.00. Also a dollar account (2073007288) US$5,000.00, P202,500.00.
23 November 1998: BWGE’s proposes the increase of their authorized capital stock by P499 M, to total P500 M, the increase in capital stock by P150 M, to total P150.25 M and a total paid-up capital is P133,111,890, an increase of P132,861,890 from the previous paid-up capital of P250,000.
December 1998: BW Gaming wins the exclusive contract to operate on-line bingo as well as to introduce Quick Pick-2, which is very similar to jueteng. Alice Reyes, chair of PAGCOR, later told a congressional hearing that BW Gaming got the on-line bingo license because “it had the endorsement of the Office of the President.”
15 April 1999: Gerdado Garcia is Director of BW Resource Corp. with 250,000 shares.
18 June 1999: Dante Tan owns 10% of BW Resource Corp.
30 June 1999: BW Resources signs a memorandum of agreement with PAGCOR. PAGCOR agrees to be the “anchor tenant” at the Sheraton Marina.
BW and Best World Gaming co-borrow P600 million from the Philippine National Bank. The government, at this time, was still a major shareholder of PNB.
July 1999: The Office of the President, through PAGCOR, gave BWGE a nationwide online bingo franchise. Under the constitution, only the congress can grant franchise to operate any gambling activity. Any gambling activity not franchised by the congress is illegal.
SEC and Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) began investigations, uncovering heavy share-buying by Tan. Investigations by the SEC, PSE, and by the Philippine Senate reveals that, to jack up the price of stocks, Tan sold his shares to friends and clients at discounted rates. The transactions are reported to the PSE board which appeared to be twice the amount actually paid. This is done so stock of BW Resources will appear active. PSE and SEC found out that BW’s daily turnover circulated around 10 brokerage firms.
1 September 1999: 1,000,000 shares added to Tan’s 75 million shares in BW Resoure Corp., at the same time, Garcia’s shares reduced to 150,000.
8 October 1999: Stanley Ho is chairman of BW Resources with 10,000 shares.
11 October 1999: BW Resource’s stock price rose to P107 from P2, a 5,250% when news broke out that Ho is new chairman of BW Resource Corp. A week after Ho’s visit to Manila, the company’s share prices drop to below P30.
24 January 2000: Sen. Raul Roco, chairman of the committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies writes to Jose Yulo, Jr., President of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) that he should submit to the committee the following documents: Printouts of broker to broker transactions on BW shares from June-October 1999, Identity of beneficial owners of BW shares in the matched transactions and exchange of letters between PSE and SEC as regards to the monitoring or investiga-tion of BW shares.
February 2000: At a Senate investigation on the alleged insider trading in BW Resources stocks, SEC chairman Perfecto Yasay reveals that Estrada called him five times and asked to clear Dante Tan of any wrongdoing in an insider-trading scandal involving Tan’s Best World (BW) Resources. Estrada denies that he interfered.
November 2000: Estrada is impeached by the House of Representatives. Among others, he stood accused of intervening with the duties of a public servant when he called up Yasay in relation to the BW scandal.
21 November 2000: As Estrada faced impeach-ment trial before the Senate and amid mounting calls for Estrada’s resignation, his close friend, Caloocan Rep. “Baby” Asistio, asks publicist to politicians Salvador “Bubby” Dacer to help boost Estrada’s image.
Dacer meets with President Estrada Malacañang regarding a media campaign to help his reputation.
26 November 2000: Two farmers, Alex Diloy and Jimmy Lopez, come out as eyewitnesses to the Dacer-Corbito murder case. Dacer was reportedly abducted and killed November 24. Both tell reporters that Dacer and his driver were strangled by policemen using electric cords before their corpses were set on fire.
The NBI prepared to indict Police Supt. Teofilo Viña, former aide of Panfilo Lacson, then PAOCTF head and PNP chief. Viña is reported as mastermind in the double murder and kidnapping case.
NBI chief Reynaldo Wycoco says that they have recovered bones and teeth in a creek in Cavite. The NBI was set to examine the remains to see whether they belong to Dacer and Corbito.
Diloy and Lopez identify four PAOCTF members to be among more than 10 individuals who took part in the killing. Lopez is also reportedly a civilian agent of PAOCTF.
Both “eyewitnesses” are arrested by the NBI. Diloy was wearing Dacer’s white shoes when he was presented to the NBI. Lopez admits to helping build a pyre of wood and tires to set the victims on fire. Viña, head of PAOCTF Visayas, signed the permit of the seized .45 caliber pistol Lopez is carrying when seen by the NBI.
11 January 2001: Former Finance Secretary Edgar-do Espiritu tells the Impeachment Court that Estrada owned shares in BW Resources Corp. and made a huge profit selling his shares when prices skyro-cketed. Espiritu also narrates how he tried to patch up the differences between Tan and Mark Jimenez, also a close friend of Estrada, as to who would control the company.
15 January 2001: During Estrada’s impeachment trial, Yasay says the BW scandal is connected with the disappearance of Dacer, who, he claims, has knowledge of the gaming firm’s activities.
26 March 2001: Digo de Pedro, a suspect in the Dacer-Corbito murder case, is abducted from his home in Indang, Cavite by armed men. De Pedro allegedly strangled Corbito before his corpse was set on fire along with Dacer.
31 March 2001: Former President Fidel V. Ramos presents himself to Justice Secretary Hernando Perez and volunteers to disclose any information he had on the killing of PR man Dacer.
Ramos accuses Estrada of being involved in the “tragic and murderous kidnapping.” Estrada denies the charge and says he is willing to accept invitations from the justice department to be able to help in the case.
4 April 2001: Wycoco announces that the following suspects in the Dacer-Corbito murder case are missing: 1) Jovencio Malabanan, 2) Renato Mala-banan, 3) Margarito Cueno 4) William Lopez 5) Rommel Rollan.
All suspects are from Indang, Cavite and are assets of the PAOCTF during Estrada’s administration.
11 April 2001: Forensic pathologists from Univer-sity of the Philippines confirm the death of Dacer. Dr. Raquel del Rosario-Fortun, leader of the forensics team, says that the remains found from the creek in Indang, Cavite were Dacer’s dental plates and Corbito’s family ring.
Viña fails to report to his new assignment, Camp Crame. He is absent without official leave.
16 April 2001: Four suspects in the Dacer-Corbito case claims that Estrada ordered to kill Dacer through Chief Inspector Glenn Dumlao of the PAOCTF. They are saying that Estrada ordered seize of Dacer through Dumlao, bypassing Viña. The four usually receive orders from Viña, their immediate superior, not Dumlao. Viña, who was previously accused of being the brains behind the Dacer double murder case, turns over seven suspects to Philippine National Police Director General Leandro Mendoza during Lenten season.
11 May 2001: The panel of prosecutors with the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) charged the following with the double murder of Dacer and Corbito: 1) Jimmy Lopez (detained), 2) Alex Diloy (detained), 3) William Lopez (detained), 4) SPO4 Marino Soberano;
Under custody of PNP-CIDG Camp Crame: 5) SPO3 Mauro Torres, 6) SPO3 Jose Escalante, 7) Crisostomo M. Purificacion, 8) Digo de Pedro, 9) Renato Malabanan, 10) Margarito Cueno, 11) Rommel Rollan;
The following are at large: 12) P/Supt. Glen Dumlao, 13) P/C Insp. Vicente Arnado, 14) P/Insp. Roberto Langcauon, 15) SPO4 Benjamin Taladua, 16) SPO1 Rolando Lacasandile, 17) SPO1 Mario Sarmiento, 18) SPO1 William Reed, 19) PO2 Thomas J. Sarmiento, 20) SPO1 Ruperto A. Nemeno;
21) John Does and James Does
14 May 2001: Lacson wins a seat in the Senate.
14 June 2001:
Dumlao submits an affidavit, through his lawyer Atty. Rogelio Agoot. Agoot says that Dumlao is “ready and willing to testify on it in any proceeding regardless of whoever will be implicated.”
Contents of the affidavit recall the incident in November 24, 2000:
“Dumlao described Aquino directing a ‘Special Operation’ against Dacer. Aquino, Dumlao and Mancao discussed the special operation directed at Dacer in Aquino’s office. In November 2000, Mancao and Dumlao were together when Dumlao notified by text message from Aquino that “Delta (Dacer) had been taken. Conduct the T.I. (tactical interrogation), coordinate with 19. Do not bring along any one from Bicol.’ (Bicol was Dacer’s home region). When told about the text message from Aquino, Mancao told Dumlao, ‘Alright, go there. Update me of results of your T.I.’
Acting upon Aquino’s and Mancao’s orders, Dumlao met with the officers who had abducted Dacer and Corbito. Dumlao then saw the two blindfolded men inside a van. Dumlao asked the man’s name and the latter gave his name as ‘Mr. Bubby Dacer.’ After asking a series of question that Aquino had given him, Dumlao called Aquino who told him to ‘go back to base but secure any documents and give it to him (referring to Aquino).’ When told about the instruction of Aquino, Arnado told Dumlao, ‘Okay, Sir, I will take care of things here.’
When Dacer’s vehicle was recovered at Maragon-don, Cavite, Aquino called Dumlao about the matter and gave instruction to secure documents. Dumlao, however, later on, burned the documents upon being told by Mancao to dispose [of] the documents as it is too dangerous keeping them.”
21 June 2001: More is revealed in Dumlao’s sworn statement. He narrates that he was given an order by then chief of Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) Panfilo Lacson through Aquino to place Dacer under surveillance in January 1999. The affidavit states that Dumlao was given P20,000 to rent a room at the Manila Hotel so he could break in Dacer’s office, also in the building. Dumlao reveals that he was instructed to steal or destroy whatever documents he could find in the office. His superiors, according the statement, were after documents pertaining to BW Resources, now under investigation for insider trading and stock manipu-lation at the PSE. Dacer reportedly got hold of the documents when Tan engaged in his services at the height of the probe being conducted by PSE and SEC.
18 June 2001: Villanueva, one of the accused, filed a Motion for Reinvestigation asserting that he was mistakenly identified as a participant in the murder. He says that a certain SPO3 Allan Cadenilla Villanueva is the participant.
1 July 2001: Members of PAOCTF Cezar Mancao II and Michael Ray Aquino flee to Hong Kong and then to America.
2 August 2001: The NBI files a new complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against a new suspect by name of P/Supt. Teofilo Viña, also a member of the PAOCTF.
17 September 2001: A Manifestation and Motion to Admit Amended Information was filed by the prosecution to discharge the following from accused to state witness: Jimmy and William Lopez, Alex Diloy and Glen Dumlao. The accused SPO3 Allan Villanueva will be replaced by P/Insp. Danilo Villanueva.
The following would be charged as additional suspects: P/Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, P/Supt. Cezar Mancao II and P/Sr. Supt. Teofilo Viña.
28 September 2001: The discharge of accused Dumlao, Diloy and Lopez brothers is denied by the Supreme Court.
1 October 2001: The Manila RTC denies the Motion to Admit Amended Information.
14 January 2002: The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges recommends the dismissal of the request letter submitted by Atty. Jesus Crispin Remulla and Ronald Lumbao, spokesperson of the People’s Movement Against Poverty (PMAP) for an investigation into the alleged involvement of Senator Renato Cayetano in the trading and manipulation of shares of stocks of BW Resource Corp.
7 January 2003: Teofilo Viña, one of the suspects, is gunned down in Tanza, Cavite by Medar Cruz. Motive of killing is not established. Cruz is a balikbayan from Virginia, United States.
3 May 2003: Dumlao issues an affidavit that states the government is pressuring him to pin down members of the opposition, noting Lacson, in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case. Dumlao then flees to America.
4 June 2003: Dante Tan flees to Australia.
6 June 2003: Australia’s Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock is saying that Australian police does not have the authority to stop Tan from leaving the Australia for they did not receive any extradition request from the Philippines. Australia’s Labor Party is questioning Ruddock’s intervention in the renewal of Tan’s visa in 2001 was linked to a A$10,000 donation he made to Ruddock’s election campaign previous month.
7 March 2005: Aquino is arrested for overstaying his tourist visa.
5 October 2005: The Supreme Court discharges Dumlao as accused.
13 March 2006: The Court of Appeals affirms DOJ’s filing of criminal charges against Dante Tan.
28 April 2006: The Manila Regional Trial court issues arrest warrants against Mancao and Aquino.
Mancao is arrested as a material witness against Aquino in an espionage case filed against the latter by the US government but he is released on bail. Leandro Aragoncillo, former US Marine who was military aide to US vice presidents Dick Cheney and Al Gore, reportedly gave Aquino documents down-loaded from FBI computers concerning observa-tions on the political situation in Philippines.
20 December 2006: The Court of Appeals junks the petition for certiorari filed by the accused Aquino due to a technicality. The CA dismisses Aquino’s petition because it carries only the signature of Bayani Loste, his counsel.
17 July 2007: Aquino pleads guilty to unauthorized possession of US Department of Defense docu-ments. These documents are to be allegedly trans-mitted to opposition leaders in the Philippines.
November 2007: Manila judge issues arrest war-rant against Dumlao.
21 November 2007: The Pasig RTC absolves Dante Tan, Frederico Galang, Eduardo Lim Jr., Hermo-genes Laddaran, Raul de Castro, Emmanuel Ed-ward Co, Mario Juan and Jimmy Juan from criminal prosecution in relation to the BW Scandal in 1999.
3 April 2008: The Manila Regional Trial court accuses the following for the Dacer-Corbito double murder case: 1) PSSupt. Michael Ray B. Aquino, 2) PSSupt. Cezar O. Mancao II, 3) Teofilo Viña,, 4) SPO2 Allan Cadenillo Villanueva, 5) SPO4 Marino Soberano, 6) SPO3 Mauro Torres, 7) SPO3 Jose Escalante, 8) Crisostomo M. Purificacion, 9) Digo de Pedro, 10) Renato Malabanan, 11) Jovencio Malabanan, 12) Margarito Cueno, 13) Rommel Rollan, 14) PC/Insp. Vicente Arnado, 15) P/Insp. Roberto Langcauon, 16) SPO4 Benjamin Taladlua, 17) SPO1 Rolando Lacasandile, 18) SPO1 Mario Sarmiento, 19) SPO1 William Reed, 20) PO2 Thomas J. Sarmiento, Jr., 21) SPO1 Ruperto A. Nemenio.
23 April 2008: An electronic copy of the memo Dacer was supposed to give to Ramos in the night of his abduction surfaces under the name of F. Pancho Villaraza, a lawyer known to be a close adviser of President Arroyo. The memo contains proof of Tan transferring 300,000 shares of stocks to Sen. Lacson and three other parties.
14 July 2008: Presidential Management Staff Chief Cerge Remonde told Sen. Lacson that his position in public office does not guarantee him immunity from any criminal suit.
August 2008: Prosecutors of the Dacer-Corbito case wrap up presenting their evidences along with testimonies of 12 witnesses. Ten accused and in custody begin to give their defense.
11 August 2008: Lacson says that the Office of the Ombudsman is investigating him. It started as a lifestyle check and slowly turned into a drive linking him to the murder of Dacer.
24 September 2008: Philippine Government files extradition for Mancao.
Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Keene and Lurana S. Snow, a United States Magistrate Judge signed extradition complaint against Mancao.
20 November 2008: The US immigration agents arrest Dumlao outside his New York apartment. Mancao is arrested in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez says that the Philippines requested for the extradition of Mancao and Dumlao.
US authorities, according to Gonzalez, have to determine whether Mancao and Dumlao have pending arrest warrants in the US. They will not be deported to the Philippines if they do.
22 November 2008: The US Department of Justice approves Philippine government’s request to extra-dite Aquino, Dumlao and Mancao to be tried for the murder of Dacer and Corbito.
24 November 2008: Schedule for Dumlao arraign-ment on December 5 is set.
Anti-crime advocates plead, “Don’t let the Bubby Dacer case go the way of the Aquino-Galman double murder case,” during a prayer vigil marking the eighth anniversary of the disappearance of Dacer and Corbito.
1 December 2008: The US Department of Justice announces the extradition of Aquino, Dumlao and Mancao back to the Philippines.
5 December 2008: Dumlao’s arraignment reset for December 8.
8 December 2008: Dumlao’s arraignment reset for December 9.
9 December 2008: District Court Judge Katherine Tomlinson in New York rules to grant Philippine government’s request of extradition against Dum-lao.
10 December 2008: United States Magistrate Judge Tomlinson signs Dumlao’s Certification of Extraditability and Order of Commitment.
11 December 2008: Dumlao weighs his options: whether he will appeal or not for his extradition to the Philippines.
27 December 2008: Justice Undersecretary Ricar-do Blancaflor announces that a special task force formed by NBI agents will pick up Dumlao and Mancao once they are extradited. Blancaflor says that both might be back on March 2009.
3 February 2009: Roberto Nardoza, Spokesman of US Attorney’s Office in New York, announces Dumlao’s move to the Southern District of Florida to testify in Mancao’s extradition hearing.
10 February 2009: Snow sets a new extradition hearing date for Mancao originally scheduled February 12 to March 11, 11 a.m.
14 February 2009: Mancao signs an affidavit containing details about the abduction and murder of Dacer and Corbito in Broward County, Florida.
3 March 2009: Snow signs Mancao’s Certification of Extraditability and Order of Commitment.
4 March 2009: Atty. Demetrio Custodio, lawyer of the Dacer family, says that Mancao is willing to tell all he knows about the Dacer and Corbito killings.
Carina Dacer meets with Mancao at his extradition hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mancao agrees to reveal key suspects, including the mastermind, in her father’s murder.
5 March 2009: Carina Dacer accuses Lacson of obstruction of justice for keeping Mancao’s whereabouts hidden from the authorities. Carina says that Lacson talked to Mancao September 2008. Lacson says that his talk with Mancao in September 2008 was to only tell him to stick to the truth. Lacson adds that Major Gen. Romeo Prestoza made a phone call to Mancao offering to reinstate and promote Mancao in the PNP in exchange of implicating the senator in the Dacer-Corbito killings.
Custodio says that Mancao will no longer appeal his extradition.
Justice Secretary Gonzalez says that Mancao can be state witness as long as he volunteers information about the mastermind in the Dacer-Corbito killings.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita says that Philip-pine authorities will provide security for Mancao. Ermita denies Lacson’s claim that Malacañang has been pressuring Mancao since 2008 to implicate Lacson since he is a part of the opposition.
6 March 2009: Lacson insists that he and Mancao were not involved in the Dacer-Cobito murder.
Former president Estrada says he has nothing to do with the killings, recalling their friendship and strong ties.
Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III tells media to stop speculating contents of Mancao’s affidavit.
Custodio says that Mancao will be extradited to the Philippines in less than three weeks. Mancao says that he wanted to shorten extradition process because he’s itching to authenticate his affidavit.
9 March 2009: Gonzalez says that Mancao’s affi-davit mentioned names of government officials involved in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case. Gonzalez does not specify whether the named government officials are incumbent or not.
Secretary Gonzalez says that Mancao’s affidavit is now kept in a bank vault because he is worried his office might get ransacked. He says that it contains information that will unmask the mastermind of Dacer’s murder. Gonzalez says that Mancao is linking a lot of high-stature, powerful officials.
13 March 2009: Sec. Gonzalez says that two civi-lians came forward claiming knowledge of the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.
Department of Transportation and Communication Undersecretary Reynaldo Berroya, also PNP Intelligence Group at the time of Dacer’s murder, tells inquirer.net that Sen. Lacson’s camp was scared that Dacer would expose documents Lacson earning billions from stock market manipulation.
Berroya says that Dumlao told him before that the killing could not have taken place without the knowledge of Lacson. Berroya is saying that Estrada was not mentioned in the killings and he does not think it is in his character to order a hit.
Berroya says that Dumlao told him that the former was also a target of an assassination plot in Capitol Golf Club in Quezon City last 2000; this information is confirmed by Sec. Gonzalez. Gonzalez claims this is in the affidavit of Mancao.
15 March 2009: Contents of Mancao’s affidavit are leaked by anonymous sources to Philippine Star columnist Tony Calvento. Mancao names Sen. Lac-son as the mastermind of the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, Calvento says. The sources, according to Calvento, reveal that Mancao was present when then-chief of PNP and concurrently PAOCTF head Lacson gave hit order on Dacer to Aquino. Lacson, according to the sources, was looking for US properties of first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in hopes to discredit the administration.
Sec. Gonzalez says there is nothing in the affidavit of Mancao that will strongly point former president Estrada as the mastermind of the Dacer-Corbito murder case.
16 March 2009: Gonzalez disputes the news report leaking the “contents” of Mancao’s affidavit, “the affidavit of Mancao is with me and I know the contents and I can assure you that these state-ments about the order of Lacson to dig dirt on the First Gentleman never appear in the affidavit.” Gonzales says the reporter may be referring to a former affidavit issued by Mancao, not the one signed February 14.
Dumlao claims that Berroya and former military intelligence officer Victor Corpuz forced him to write his 2003 affidavit linking Sen. Lacson to the double murder case.
17 March 2009: Gonzalez announces that Dumlao is scheduled to be extradited to the Philippines on or before March 19, 2009.
Calvento says he will resign if his report is proven wrong. Dacer’s daughter Carina is saying that the report on Mancao’s affidavit is accurate.
18 March 2009: Mancao urges the government to declare him state witness and ensure his protection. His attorney refuses to reveal the contents of his affidavit as Mancao wants the public to wait for his statement.
Dacer family lawyer Atty. Demetrio Custodio, who claims to have seen Mancao’s affidavit, tells the press that it jibes with the contents of Dumlao’s affidavit. Custodio says the Dacer family is studying their options whether to reopen the case or file an entirely new case.
Department of Justice State Prosecutor Phillip Kimpo clarifies that Dumlao issued three affidavits: 1) Linking Aquino, Mancao and other high officials with the name “71” to the double murder case, 2) In 2003, claimed that he was forced to link Sen. Lacson to the murder case, and 3) the latest one, which was executed while his extradition was already being processed, affirms the authenticity of his first affidavit.
19 March 2009: Dumlao cancels his flight back to Manila. NBI agents in the Los Angeles airport assigned to bring him back report to Sec. Gonzalez that Dumlao will petition for his right to the writ of habeas corpus and the writ of injunction. Gonzalez suspects a conspiracy behind Dumlao’s petition against his extradition. “I will be forced to release Mancao’s statement if this continues,” Gonzalez said.
20 March 2009: Dumlao’s lawyer Felix Vinluan says in a radio interview with Ted Failon that the reason for Dumlao’s petition against his extradition was that he was tortured to implicate Sen. Lacson and former president Estrada
Philippine Daily Inquirer releases contents of Mancao’s affidavit signed February 14, 2009 from a government official who does not want to be named. In another article, a letter was found in Dacer’s office, written on Malacañang letterhead and addressed to Tan, demanding Tan to turnover Estrada’s BW stocks amounting to P500 million.
Mancao states in his affidavit that in the early part of 2000, he found out that Aquino was utilizing some of his personnel in PAOCTF task force Luzon for Aquino’s “special operations,” pertaining to operations that do not follow normal channels of command, without his knowledge. Dacer, whom they referred to as “DELTA,” was the target of the special operations.
Mancao says Aquino told him that the special operations were “approved and cleared by Lacson and Malacañang itself.” He claims in the affidavit that Lacson gave him direct orders to cover up the murder immediate after Dacer and Corbito were killed.
Senator Lacson maintains that he does not have anything to do with the Dacer-Corbito double murder case. He says it was Malacañang frame-up.
Other contents of Mancao’s affidavit:
“After winning the election as senator of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 2001 elections, Lacson called Aquino and myself to a meeting in a house somewhere in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. In that meeting, Lacson instructed both of us to leave the country since the new administration would surely go after us and link us in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, among others, in order to destroy his reputation and presidential ambition. He assured us that he will take care of both of us and will continue to give us our monthly allowance. I can vividly remember Lacson’s words: ‘Kailangang umalis na kayo sa bansa dahil si Glenn nagbigay na ng statement, and Kuratong Baleleng case ay binuhay, at posibleng gagawa yan ng iba pang mga kaso. Huwag kayong mag-alala, ako ang bahala sa inyo.’ (You need to leave the country because Glenn already gave a statement, and the Kuratong Baleleng case is revived, and it is possible that they will file more cases. Don’t worry, I will have you covered.) At that time, the burnt remains and belongings of Dacer and Corbito had been recovered from a creek somewhere in Indang, Cavite; some of the perpetrators had even confessed to the killing; and the case was already being investigated by the Department of Justice.”
“On July 1, 2001, I followed Lacson’s instructions for me to leave the country for the United States. I rendezvous with Aquino in Hong Kong and from there we proceeded to the United States via San Francisco. Lacson made arrangements for our stay at Harrold Hicks’ friend’s house in Daly City; Hicks is a former enlisted man who worked under Lacson. However, before I left the country, I was made to sign a Counter-Affidavit in the then pending preliminary investigation concerning the abduction and death of Dacer and Corbito before the Department of Justice. The Counter-Affidavit contained for the most part, strong denials of my supposed knowledge or participation in the Dacer-Corbito operations as narrated by Dumlao in a handwritten affidavit. I was constrained to sign the same despite knowing that some of the allegations were actually true, in order to save my neck and in the hope that I will be exonerated therefrom.”
“In September 2001, I decided to settle in the state of Florida, while Aquino settled in the state of New Jersey. I have lived in Florida since then and never went back to the Philippines. In the meanwhile, Lacson repeatedly traveled to the U.S. from October 2001 up to September 2003 and met with us in all of these occasions; he also did not fail to reimburse our plane fares and other expenses.”
Former president Estrada, referred to as “BIGOTE” in Mancao’s affidavit and was “irked” by Dacer, says that Mancao’s statement is really an attempt to discredit him. In an interview on ANC’s On the Scene, Estrada says “The government is afraid of my continued popularity. Hindi pa nga ako nagdi-deklara na tatakbo ako para sa pagkapresidente sa 2010, takot na sila. (I have not yet declared if I am running for president in 2010, they are already afraid.)”
24 March 2009: Carina Dacer, daughter of Dacer, says that Lacson sent her a text message saying he is not involved in the murder of Bubby Dacer. “A text message is not a signed affidavit,” she says. Carina tells government officials to stop making the death of his father about the presidential race in 2010.
Dumlao’s lawyer Vinluan says that the DOJ had misinterpreted the SC decision on October 5, 2005 that excluded Dumlao as an accused.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde says that it was intriguing how Dumlao managed to post a $100,000 when he had no means to raise the money on his own.
The Dacer family files a formal complaint against Sen. Lacson for the murders of Dacer and Corbito. Dacer’s four daughters execute an affidavit directly accusing Lacson of masterminding the killings. Sen. Lacson reiterates that he had nothing to do with the killings of Dacer and Corbito.
31 March 2009: Vicente Arnado, former police chief inspector of the defunct PAOCTF and also a suspect in the Dacer-Corbito murder case, is still hiding in the US and has yet to be arrested, unlike Mancao, Dumlao and Aquino. DOJ will soon move for the arrest and extradition of Arnado.
13 April 2009: The Court of Appeals orders the criminal prosecution of Dante Tan, Frederico Galang, Eduardo Lim Jr., Hermogenes Laddaran, Raul de Castro, Emmanuel Edward Co, Mario Juan and Jimmy Juan for the insider trading and stock price manipulation of BW Resources Corp. in 1999.
22 April 2009: The Supreme Court rules that the BW criminal charge against Tan to proceed. Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario penned the decision to uphold the CA ruling to reinstate criminal case no. 119830 against Tan.
3 June 2009: Mancao is turned over to NBI officials at the Los Angeles International Airport. Mancao flies back to Manila via Philippine Airlines flight number PR 103.
4 June 2009: Mancao is back in Manila.
The Rizal Day bombings, on the other hand, rocked Metro Manila on 30 December 2000. Bombs exploded in five separate places almost simultaneously, claiming lives of at least 22 persons and injuring more than a hundred.
The Erap impeachment trial was on an 11-day Christmas break, and would resume in 3 days. When it adjourned on 22 December 2000, the Senate Tribunal heard the testimony of Equitable-PCI Bank Senior Vice President Clarissa Ocampo. She told the court that Erap on February 9, 1999 signed as “Jose Velarde” on documents related to the opening of a trust account with her bank in her presence.
This book has deemed it important to mention the Dacer-Corbito murders and the Rizal Day bombings because madness of this kind, claiming even more innocent lives, would continue to rock the GMA government.
Some of the publicized cases included the 4 March 2003 Davao Airport bombing that killed 21 people and injured more than a hundred more people; the 2 April 2003 Sasa Wharf, also in Davao City, bombing, killing 16 and injuring 46 people; the 19 October 2007 Glorietta 2 in Makati City bombing, killing 11 and injuring more than a hundred people; the 13 November 2007 Batasan Pambansa bombing that killed 6 and injured 12 people.
While government had been quick to tag Muslim radicals as suspects in these and many other atrocities, others believed, as discussed earlier, that these seemingly false-flag incidents were carried out to divert media and public attention from controversies in which government officials were involved.
The GMA government had proven itself to be as scandal-ridden as the one it succeeded; it hobbled under the weight of—to name a few examples—the fertilizer fund scam, the “Hello Garci” scandal, the NBN-ZTE bribery scandal, among other controversies.
Attempts to impeach GMA became a hobby and Malacañang, when facing really serious threats, variably responded with either bribe offers of out-sized congressional pork barrel funds, if not outright cash, or counter threats.
In October 2007, then Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio said he received a bag containing P500,000 after he attended a meeting in Malacañang.
On August 18, 2003, Ping Lacson, who was now Senator of the Philippines, accused in a privilege speech then First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo “of money laundering for sup-posedly siphoning off at least P321 M in campaign funds and contributions to a secret bank account under the fictitious name Jose Pidal and three other accounts using the names of his aides.”
Lacson went into hiding in January 2010 before an arrest warrant—having been charged as mastermind of the Dacer-Corbito murders—could be issued to him. All throughout, the senator had insisted he was innocent of the charge, and maintained that political harassment by the GMA govern-ment was his main reason for hiding.
To be fair, crime and corruption have not been a monopoly of the Erap and GMA governments. If an evolution of govern-ment dysfunctions could be traced, one would probably see them in times as old as the Magdalo and Katipunan conflicts. Walden Bello, in a February 2001 essay that broke down what was in store of the GMA presidency, took note of the creeping corruption that debased government’s capacity for checking crime. Excerpts:
“Also volatile in its consequences was the massive expansion of the security forces amid economic stagnation. The result was the proliferation of thousands of low-paid condottieri who hired themselves out to local and national politicians. By the end of the Marcos regime, not a few officers had discovered that their command over men and firepower could be translated into successful entrepreneurship in the form of kidnapping the rich–especially rich Chinese–for ransom. Why, they reasoned, should this extremely profitable business be left to petty gangsters? Indeed, when regular gangsters sought to organize independently of the military and police, they found out the hard way that the men in uniform would brook no competition. Some observers contend that this was the significance of the total liquidation of a Jesse James-like outfit, the Kuratong Baleleng Gang, while under government custody in 1995, an operation carried out by security elites closely associated with then-Vice President Estrada.
“From a sociological point of view, the most interesting item to come out of the revelations of Singson is that the main project of the Estrada administration was to centralize crime under the presidency. Under Estrada, the most profitable criminal activities, like jueteng, were to be rationalized, with a bureaucracy stretching from the president to the smallest jueteng collector, paralleling and intertwining at key points with the formal hierarchy of government. What was exposed in the jueteng scandal was probably only the tip of the iceberg. Many Filipinos are convinced that the worlds of prostitution, drugs and kidnapping were on their way to becoming equally centralized. Had the Estrada project not been disrupted, the president would have become the apex of both the state and the underworld. This was the real “Erap Revolution”–and Filipinos, particularly the middle class, had thought the man was stupid!
“The state-mafia nexus is the reason that many people in this country who felt Estrada should go expressed hesitations when it came to the question of succession. At the onset of the current crisis, Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo left the president’s Cabinet and called for Estrada’s resignation. She did not, however, meet with enthusiastic support. The biggest apprehension stemmed from her political and personal ties to Bong Pineda, one of the country’s top gambling lords, from whom Singson collected jueteng proceeds meant for Estrada. In fact, she was the main sponsor at the wedding of one of Pineda’s children, and such ritual kinship in this country bespeaks close personal ties. Arroyo was also accused, like Estrada, of concealing her net worth by not declaring her ownership of property in San Francisco worth $4.6 million. So, not surprisingly, many feared that the country would be getting rid of Estrada only to deliver the presidency to somebody who might be equally compromised with crime.”
After presiding over the affairs of the Province of Ilocos Sur for decades, Chavit sort of retired from politics in 2016 to focus, he said, on his business interests.
One may also recall that aside from being a politician and businessman, Chavit is a sportsman. He remains active in shooting competitions; he travels around the globe to join hunting safaris in places where these are legal.
He is also a boxing fan. His association, as business and political adviser, with former world boxing champion and currently Senator Manny Pacquiao, is widely known in the Philippines and other parts of the world, especially in some major cities of the USA.
Early this year (2017), the Philippines hosted the 65th Miss Universe pageant. Chavit came forward to sponsor it, and spent at least $13 million (around P650 M) of his personal money to cover all costs related to it.
He assured those who wondered how audacious one can be in spending such amount of money that he could afford it.
There had been no shortage of information linking Chavit to riches, but what seemed to be unmitigated gallantry on his part could not but stoke curiosity. How deep, really, is his pocket?
His investments, according to reports, earn him—let’s correct that: net him—at least P120 M every month. The figure may not astound if ranged against those that other big dogs of Philippine business rake in; but surely it is not something that one may sneeze at either.
In a January 2017 report, Entrepreneur PH interviewed Chavit on why and how rich he was. Quoted below are part of that interview:
“My net revenues amount to about P120 M a month. There are a lot (of companies). I have many businesses that earn millions.
“The construction (business) I make billions; the transportation (business), I’m netting around P100 M a month; I’ve earned P1 B from that in previous years, just for transportation.”
In that same interview, Chavit mentioned that his relatively new ventures included a commercial airline that will fly domestic and international routes, a bank in Puerto Rico (Vigan Banco International) which recently opened branches in Los Angeles (California) and Mexico, and local branches of GO Sport, one of Europe’s largest sporting goods chains.
When asked how many companies he owns, he said: “There are a lot. Maybe around a hundred. Some of them aren’t in my name.”
And given the many ways he has shown how good he is at what he does, it may surprise no one to think that hosting the pageant at such a huge expense was, after all, a sound business decision.
While there were ways by which he could recoup at least part of expenses, losing any amount could more than compensate for the goodwill he generated with the government. A way of giving back, he said.
And he wants people to believe him. In another interview I had with him on his spat with Erap, he said:
“I am sincere. And lahat ng sasabihin ko… at kung magsalita ako kailangan totoo dahil yon ang kabilinbilinan ng aking Tatay (Everything that I will say…I need to speak the truth because that is what my Father told me)… na oras na masira ang credibility mo wala ng maniniwala sa yo (that in the event that I lose my credibility, nobody will ever believe me), kaya wag ka magsalita ng di mo magagawa (so do not say anything you cannot support with action). So yon ang palagi kong ginagawa (that’s what I always do), that’s the reason why in politics I always win by a landslide. Because I’m sincere to serve the people. At saka may isang salita lang ako. (And people have my word.)
People, especially those outside of Ilocos Sur, may either believe or not in what he says, but there is one thing about which there can be little dispute anywhere: Chavit’s friends are glad that he remains in public view, retired or not.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hermilando “Ingming” Duque Aberia is a development worker by training and profession.
He worked with communities and some LGUs as well as national government agencies in the Philippines. He also has had brief stints at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, United Nations Development Program, International Labour Organization, Asian Development Bank, Australian AID, among other development agencies.
He has a master’s degree in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management, Makati City, Philippines.
He writes occasionally for his blog at http://aberia.us.
Comments can be emailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 In the game of Chess, blitz (short for blitzkrieg) is played at faster time controls than standard (or classical) or rapid games. Blitz players need to move quickly, lest they lose on time. The risks of losing due to weak moves are also high, although finding brilliant tactical shots can and do happen. Some observers in fact thought that Villar had made a brilliant move.
 Some lawyers commented that the Defense Counsel filed a Motion to Quash (applied in criminal cases) rather than a Motion to Dismiss to highlight the contention that the impeachment trial should be conducted in a manner similar to a criminal proceeding where conviction is based on evidence “beyond reasonable doubt.”
 With much of Philippine government institutions patterned after American models, including the rules of impeachment which the Senate adopted for the Erap trial, the senators should have been called jurors and the Senate constituted as jury, with the presiding officer—Davide—as the judge. But since the Senators allowed themselves to ask questions during the trial, they in effect likewise became judges.
 Heading to the trial itself, the senators could not yet agree on the number of votes required to convict the respondent. The Constitution required that at least two-thirds of all members of the Senate must vote to convict the respondent to remove any impeachable official from his or her post. Some said it was enough to convict with 15 affirmative votes (based on 22 senators); others contended that at least 16 votes were needed to convict (based on 24 senators). The Senate at the time had only 22 members. While the Constitution mandated that the Senate at any given time must have 24 members, one of them (Gloria Arroyo) was elected Vice Presi-dent along with Erap in 1998, and another one (Robert Barbers) was undergoing medication in the United States. This issue, how-ever, needed no reso-lution as the trial did not reach a point where the juror-judges had to vote for either conviction or acquittal.
 Eventually established as Jose Velarde.
 Media labeled this property as “the Boracay Mansion,” allegedly owned by Erap but in the possession of Laarni Enriquez, one of his mistres-ses, to describe its resemblance to the world-renowned beaches of Boracay Islands.
 When Chavit’s turn to take the witness stand came, he said that Jinggoy had a hand in jueteng operations in the whole province of Pampanga, and was the one collecting the share of protection money intended for Erap.
 In my interview with Chavit, he explained that Erap felt it was more convenient for all if Chavit himself would hand all the money to Erap, ostensibly to attend to official functions, because Chavit was, as Governor, a government official. Brazen as Erap was in his disregard of ethical standards for government officials, the President thought that Atong seeing him much too often was a recipe for attracting media attention.
 A Philippine slang similar to “freezing the ball” (usually in a basketball game), which means to do nothing when one is ahead in the scoreboard until the regulation time expires, or runs out.
 Prime time TV programs had to be pushed back so that the networks could carry the proceedings live. The business side of TV programming would have no problem with this: the show that the impeachment trial has become was breaking viewer ratings records.
 Source: https://youtu.be/PQdHzhseX0o
 For example, the administration that succeeded GMA’s, under the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III, was also graft and scandal ridden, but any reference to it, unless related to the main issue which Chavit brought up against Erap, should be out of this book’s reach.
 Chavit did run and win a seat in the SB of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur.
 Manny Pacquiao holds the record of being the only 8-division (4 as lineal champion, also a record) title holder in all of professional boxing history.