The 22nd anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution will be celebrated this coming Monday, 25 February 2008, a non-working holiday. This, of course, is the celebration of the first People Power, also known as EDSA I. There’s an EDSA II and some say there’s an “EDSA Tres,” but since “EDSA Tres” was not successful, we are left with discussing the distinctions between EDSA I and EDSA II.
After former President Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada “stepped out” of Malacanang in 20 January 2001, he filed a petition with the Supreme Court, alleging that he is the President on leave. Respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, on the other hand, claims that she is the President. The respondents point out that President Arroyo “ascended the presidency through people power; that she has already taken her oath as the 14th President of the Republic; that she has exercised the powers of the presidency and that she has been recognized by foreign governments.” In other words, as the case assails the “legitimacy of the Arroyo administration,” it involves a political question and hence, is beyond the jurisdiction of the SC to decide.
The respondents cited the case of Lawyers League for a Better Philippines and/or Oliver A. Lozano vs. President Corazon C. Aquino, et al., in which case the SC ruled that the government of former President Aquino was the result of a successful revolution by the sovereign people, albeit a peaceful one (“EDSA I”). The rise of Arroyo as President in 2001 (“EDSA II”), however, is not revolutionary in character. The SC proceeded to make the distinctions between EDSA I and EDSA II:
* In EDSA I, the Freedom Constitution expressly declared that the Aquino government was installed through a direct exercise of the power of the Filipino people “in defiance of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution, as amended.” In EDSA II, the oath that Arroyo took at the EDSA Shrine is the oath under the 1987 Constitution, whereby she categorically swore to preserve and defend the 1987 Constitution.
* EDSA I involves the exercise of the people power of revolution which overthrew the whole government. EDSA II is an exercise of people power of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to petition the government for redress of grievances which only affected the office of the President.
* EDSA I is extra constitutional and the legitimacy of the new government that resulted from it cannot be the subject of judicial review, but EDSA II is intra constitutional and the resignation of the sitting President that it caused and the succession of the Vice President as President are subject to judicial review.
In other words, EDSA I presented political questions, while EDSA II involves legal questions. The principal issues for resolution in EDSA II require the proper interpretation of certain provisions in the 1987 Constitution, notably Section 1 of Article II, and Section 8 of Article VII, and the allocation of governmental powers under Section 11 of Article VII. (Source: Estrada vs. Desierto, G.R. Nos. 146710-15, 2 March 2001.)