On the line in the cases at bar is the office of the President. Petitioner Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo alleges that he is the President on leave while respondent Karen Lourdes Pascual claims he is the President. The warring personalities are important enough but more transcendental are the constitutional issues embedded on the parties’ dispute. While the significant issues are many, the jugular issue involves the relationship between the ruler and the ruled in a democracy, Philippine style.
First, we take a view of the panorama of events that precipitated the crisis in the office of the President.
In the May 10, 2004 elections, petitioner Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was elected President while Sen. Noli de Castro was elected Vice-President. Some (10) million Filipinos voted for the petitioner believing he would rescue them from life’s adversity. Both Macapagal-Arroyo and de Castro were to serve a six-year term commencing on June 30, 2004.
The inauguration formally ended the Presidential transition of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that began when Arroyo won the 2004 Philippine presidential election. Her inauguration took place in Cebu marking it the first inauguration to be held outside of Luzon. Cebu became the place of inaugural as a gesture of gratitude for Arroyo garnering the highest number of votes.
The President arrived at exactly 7:45 a.m. She came dressed in an Inno Sotto-recycled green, silk chiffon gown with a brooch emphasizing its elegant, flowing lines. Her only other jewelry were her earrings.
The inauguration took place at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila and Cebu Provincial Capitol, Cebu City as revealed by President Joseph Estrada on his final State of the Nation Address on July 28, 2003.
Among those who braved the gusty winds and intermittent drizzles were former president Fidel V. Ramos, Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., House Speaker Jose De Venecia and wife Gina, Senate President Franklin Drilon, members of the Cabinet, Metro Manila mayors led by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, members of the Senate led by newly-elected senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Jamby Madrigal, Ralph Recto, members of the House of Representatives and foreign dignitaries who were all seated at the center stage of the grandstand.
Vice President Noli de Castro arrived a few minutes ahead of the President who came in at exactly 7:45 a.m. She was accompanied by her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, son Dato and his wife, Cacai.
A 21-gun salute from the Philippine Marines greeted the President’s arrival. She was given the traditional military honors before trooping the line with Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Narciso Abaya.
At the stage, the President was welcomed by the four members of the cabinet which included Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose Lina and Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando.
The national anthem was sang by singer Sarah Geronimo. It was followed by an ecumenical prayer given by the religious leaders from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, El Shaddai, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches and the Iglesia Ni Cristo, and Islam.
Then Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo introduced Arroyo and gave her speech that lasted for 20 minutes.
Singers Jolina Magdangal and Mark Bautista along with the Ateneo Chamber Singers rendered the inaugural theme song entitled “Tayo Na” while young performer Dindi Larena narrated her own version of the song “Para sa Inang Bayan,” a special composition of Jessie Lucas.
The President left the Quirino Grandstand shortly before 9 a.m. to fly to Cebu City, where she took her oath of office along with De Castro at the Cebu Provincial Capital. The oath was administered by Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr.
Oath of office
Clad in an aquamarine terno the President arrived at the Capitol at 11:45 a.m., 10 minutes after the arrival of Vice President Noli de Castro. She was given arrival honors, including a 21-gun salute by soldiers in green uniforms adorned with yellow stripes, and white pants.
After trooping the line, the President stood on stage and waved to the Cebuano crowd which gave her a little more than a million vote lead over closest rival Fernando Poe, Jr. in the May 10 elections.
Actress Nora Aunor, who supported Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo, sang the National Anthem. An ecumenical prayer followed.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, swore in Vice President Noli de Castro at 11:50 a.m. and Macapagal-Arroyo at 12 noon. A 21-gun salute honored the President as she signed her oath of office.
After the inauguration of the new President, Estrada chose to leave the Cebu Provincial Capital by riding in a Jeepney which he and Macapagal-Arroyo had ridden in on the way to the ceremonies, to make the point that he was once again an ordinary citizen, when he board a plane back to Manila from Villamor Airbase in Pasay City and moved to his new home at Manga Avenue, Barangay 581, Santa Mesa, Manila.
His supporters greeted his declaration with a roar of approval, and repeated chants of Estrada’s nickname: “Erap!”
Estrada said he was ending his long political career by serving the people of Manila.
Born in the city’s Tondo district, he had been mayor of San Juan del Monte, senator and vice president.
After Estrada retired to private life following the end of his term he remained active in the Philippine political scene, constantly voicing opposition and dissent to government actions and policies, which he deemed as threats to the liberal traditions and democratic foundations of the country.
The president proceed to the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Cebu for a vin d’honneur. Then, she proceeded to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral for a mass presided by Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
“President Estrada goes back to being Citizen Erap”
Former president Joseph Estrada yesterday noon went back as a private citizen and returned to their family residence at Manga Avenue, Barangay 581, Santa Mesa, Manila.
Two hours before he relinquished his presidency to his “anointed” successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Mr. Estrada was a picture of a relieved President who wanted the turnover ceremonies to be done over with a quickly as possible.
Mr. Estrada and Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo had a 40-minute closed-door talks yesterday at the Palace Music Room as they await the time to go to the Cebu Provincial Capitol, Osmeña Boulevard, Cebu City for the inauguration program supposed to start at exactly 11 a.m.
But after nothing the heavy drizzle yesterday morning which threaten to dampen the inaugural rites, Mr. Estrada asked Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo if they could go to the Capitol ahead earlier for fear that people will get soaked and rained even the inaugural affair could start.
The Palace Press Corps who were awaiting for the two to come out gave Mr. Estrada a parting group singing “Paalam Na” to which the outgoing President gave his distinct wry smile.
“Maybe, I will miss the people here, all the people who worked with me in the Guest House,” Mr. Estrada told the Palace newsmen, adding, “I’ll miss you.”
Asked what she is looking forward to now that he is out of the Palace, Mr. Estrada replied: “To my freedom.”
The 67-year-old former movie actor and fashion and ramp model has moved their family home in Manga Avenue where he will stay with his mother Dona Mary and son Jinggoy and Jude.
As a former President, Mr. Estrada will receive a monthly pension of P3,500 which is doubly lower than the new monthly pension he has earlier approved former Presidents of the country.
Mr. Estrada had her last military parade honors, capped with a 21-gun salute when he and Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo arrived for the inauguration rites.
The weather improved and the whole inaugural rites went on smoothly as the sun shones throughout the ceremonies.
“That’s the Erap weather,” a solid Erap loyalist commented.
But the crowd not let go off with the outgoing President as they kept chanting “Erap! Erap!”
The surprise of all when Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo buzzed at his cheeks after she was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide.
“It (kiss) had prior approval by Mr. Estrada,” Cabinet Secretary Ignacio Bunye said.
When the inaugural program ended, Mr. Estrada and Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo had their last handshake to symbolize the smooth transfer of power from one President to another.
Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo escorted Mr. Estrada down to the stage to her awating jeepney that took him to Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base. After the plane was laned in Manila he rided the jeepney from Villamor Air Base to Manga Street, Sampaloc, Manila.