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Joseph Estrada vs Macapagal & Desierto
De Jure vs De Facto President
Estrada alleges that he is the President on leave while respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claims she is the President. From the beginning of Erap’s term, he was plagued by problems that slowly but surely eroded his popularity. His sharp descent from power started on October 4, 2000. Singson, a longtime friend of the Estrada, went on air and accused the Estrada, his family and friends of receiving millions of pesos from jueteng lords. The exposé immediately ignited reactions of rage. On January 19, the fall from power of the petitioner appeared inevitable. At 1:20 p.m., the petitioner informed Executive Secretary Edgardo Angara that General Angelo Reyes, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, had defected. January 20 turned to be the day of surrender. On January 22, the Monday after taking her oath, respondent Arroyo immediately discharged the powers and duties of the Presidency. After his fall from the pedestal of power, the Erap’s legal problems appeared in clusters. Several cases previously filed against him in the Office of the Ombudsman were set in motion.
ISSUE: Whether or not Arroyo is a legitimate (de jure) president.
HELD: The SC holds that the resignation of Estrada cannot be doubted. It was confirmed by his leaving Malacañang. In the press release containing his final statement, (1) he acknowledged the oath-taking of the respondent as President of the Republic albeit with the reservation about its legality; (2) he emphasized he was leaving the Palace, the seat of the presidency, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation. He did not say he was leaving the Palace due to any kind of inability and that he was going to re-assume the presidency as soon as the disability disappears; (3) he expressed his gratitude to the people for the opportunity to serve them. Without doubt, he was referring to the past opportunity given him to serve the people as President; (4) he assured that he will not shirk from any future challenge that may come ahead in the same service of our country. Estrada’s reference is to a future challenge after occupying the office of the president which he has given up; and (5) he called on his supporters to join him in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity. Certainly, the national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity could not be attained if he did not give up the presidency. The press release was petitioner’s valedictory, his final act of farewell. His presidency is now in the past tense. Even if Erap can prove that he did not resign, still, he cannot successfully claim that he is a President on leave on the ground that he is merely unable to govern temporarily. That claim has been laid to rest by Congress and the decision that respondent Arroyo is the de jure President made by a co-equal branch of government cannot be reviewed by this Court.
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