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Estrada v DesiertoGR Nos.

146710-15, March 2, 2001

Puno, J.

public the merits of the case while in its pendency, c) to enjoin

the Ombudsman from resolving pending criminal cases against
Estrada for 30 days.

Facts :


1. In 1998, Joseph Estrada was elected President of the

Philippines, while Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo was elected VicePresident. The president was accused with corruption,
culminating in Ilocos Sur Governor ChavitSingsons
accusations that the president received millions of pesos from
jueteng lords.

I. Whether the petitions present a justiciable controversy.

2. The Senate and the House of Representatives began early

investigations regarding the accusation, while key sociopolitical figures like Cardinal Sin, former Presidents Aquino and
Ramos, the vice president, senior advisers and cabinet
members called on the president to resign, and resigned from
their cabinet posts themselves.
3. The impeachment trial began on 7 December 2000, with 21
senator-judges presided over by Chief Justice HilarioDavide. At
a point when 11 senator-judges ruled against opening a
second envelope of evidence showing the presidents P3.3
billion bank account under the name Jose Velarde, the public
prosecutors resigned and a mass demonstration at EDSA
4. CJ Davide granted Senator Raul Rocos motion to postpone
the impeachment trial until the House of Representatives
resolved the lack of public prosecutors.
5. With the defection of more officials and of the army and
police from the Estrada administration, the president attempted
to appease public sentiment by announcing a snap election
and by allowing the second envelope to be opened. The
measures failed, and the calls for resignation strengthened.
6. On 20 January 2001, the president negotiated with
representatives of the vice-president. News broke out that
Chief Justice HilarioDavide would administer the oath of
presidency to the vice president at EDSA Shrine. Estrada
issued two statements - one stating reservations on the
constitutionality of Arroyos presidency, and another stating that
he is incapable of dispensing his responsibilities as president,
thus allowing Arroyo to be the acting president.
7. The Arroyo administration was met with acceptance by the
different branches of government, by majority of the public, and
by the international community. The impeachment trial was
closed, despite sentiments such as those of Senator DefensorSantiago that the impeachment court had failed to resolve the
case, leaving open questions regarding Estradas qualifications
to run for other elected posts.
8. The Office of the Ombudsman proceeded to file a series of
cases regarding the corruption of Estrada. Estrada filed a
motion compelling the Ombudsman to refrain from further
proceedings until his term as president was over. He also filed
a petition to be confirmed as the lawful and incumbent
president, temporarily unable to fulfill his duties, thus making
Arroyo an acting president only.
9. The Supreme Court ruled a) to inform the parties that they
did not declare the Office of the President vacant on 20
January 2001, b) to prohibit either party from discussing in

II. Assuming that the petitions present a justiciable controversy,

whether petitioner Estrada is a President on leave while
respondent Arroyo is an Acting President.
III. Whether conviction in the impeachment proceedings is a
condition precedent for the criminal prosecution of petitioner
Estrada. In the negative and on the assumption that petitioner
is still president, whether he is immune from criminal
IV. Whether the prosecution of petitioner Estrada should be
enjoined on the ground of prejudicial publicity
I. The petitions present a justiciable controversy because the
cases at bar pose legal, and not political, questions. Hence,
the cases are within the jurisdiction of the Court to decide.
Definition of political questions: ...those questions
which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people
in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full
discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or
executive branch of government. --Former CJ Roberto
Arroyos government is NOT revolutionary in
character, since her oath was taken under the 1987
EDSA II is an exercise of people power of freedom
of speech and the right to assembly. It is intra constitutional in
this regard (within the scope of the Constitution). The
resignation of Estrada that it caused and the subsequent
succession of of Arroyo are subject to judicial review. II.
Estrada is NOT a President on leave while Arroyo is Acting
Under Section 11 Article VII, Estrada says that only
Congress has the ultimate authority to determine whether the
President is incapable of performing his functions in the
manner provided by said provision.
Hence, Arroyo has no power to judge Estradas
inability to do his job as President.
However, both houses of Congress expressed their
recognition and support of Arroyo as the new President, and it
is implicitly clear in this recognition that Estradas inability is no
longer temporary. Thus, Congress has rejected Estradas claim
of inability.
Furthermore, Court cannot exercise its judicial
power to revise decision of Congress in recognizing Arroyo. To
do so would be to transgress principle of separation of powers,
since this is a political issue. III. Estrada contends that he has
not been convicted in the impeachment case and that he
enjoys immunity from all kinds of suit.

Executive immunity provision of 1973 Constitution

was no longer included in the 1986 Constitution. This is in
accordance with SC ruling in In Re: Saturnino Bermudez that
incumbent Presidents are immune from suit or from being
brought to court during the period of their incumbency and
tenure but not beyond.

When the president has resigned, then proper

criminal and civil cases may already be filed against him IV.
Estrada argued that respondent Ombudsman should be
stopped from conducting the investigation of the cases filed
against him because of prejudicial publicity on his guilt, and
that respondent has also developed bias.

In People v Teehankee, Jr. and Larranaga v Court

of Appeals it was laid down that the right of an accused to a fair
trial is not incompatible to a free press. Responsible press.

Our judges are smart enough to know the law and

to disregard camera drama and off-court evidence. Their
exposure to media does not affect their impartiality.