With the 15th anniversary of the EDSA People Power 2 revolution fast approaching, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban has come out with a series of columns justifying the Supreme Court’s decision to swear in then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with the forced ouster of then President Joseph Estrada.
In his Inquirer column, Panganiban, who was then an Associate Justice, recalled how he advised then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. to swear in Arroyo as president on January 20, 2001 to
Davide had been presiding over the Senate impeachment trial of Estrada which was stalled on January 16 with the walkout of 11 prosecutors due to the refusal of senators to open the second envelope containing details of Estrada’s alleged bank deposits under the “Jose Velarde” account.
Panganiban said he advised Davide to swear in Arroyo as the Chief Executive at noon of January 20 to head off what he feared was an imminent confrontation between Estrada loyalists in Malacanang and People Power demonstrators in EDSA. The SC unanimously upheld Arroyo’s rise to Malacanang less than two months later.
For years, Panganiban, who was appointed Chief Justice by Arroyo in 2005, has been getting criticism for his actions to legitimize Arroyo’s claim to the presidency that red-letter day in the country’s history.
But 15 years later, Panganiban has no regrets and is in fact more convinced that if he didn’t do so, things could have been worse for the country which went through 9 years of an Arroyo presidency.
“Looking back, had the Supreme Court not affirmed the legitimacy of her ascension, Arroyo would have been tempted to set aside the Constitution and set up a revolutionary government, and in so doing, would have altered our history, given that at that point she had control of the military and the police,” said Panganiban.
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