Well, looks like it’s over.
I’ve just returned from EDSA, where I witnessed a grand historical event: the swearing into office of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the EDSA Shrine, to the cheers of a huge crowd of Filipino rallyists.
Erap Estrada, deserted by the public majority, the military, his cabinet, and his political supporters, mustered up what little dignity he had remaining and left Malacañang Palace peacefully this afternoon, headed for his residence in North Greenhills, San Juan. His condition is a formal resignation effective only on Wednesday, until which time he will remain President; and he questions the legitimacy of GMA’s oath of office. These matters, however, are “moot and academic” to most of the government and to the public. The legal basis: The Supreme Court has declared the Presidency vacant and administered the constitutional succesor’s oath of office. Legally, GMA is now the President of the Republic, though she has conceded to a smooth, graceful transition. By Wednesday, hopefully without any additional interference, all doubts will be laid to rest as to who heads the Philippine government.
Erap says he does not plan to leave the country, despite the assurance that justice will be served to him. He may face prosecution on the same charges of corruption, bribery, and plunder.
The crowds are dispersing, the turmoil is dying down, and the economy is picking up; but there’s still a lot of doubt in the air. Gloria is not a popular choice for the presidency, and political dissension and polarization still haunt the people. She will now have to get to work, appointing Cabinet members, selecting a Vice-President, and making good on her promises to clean up Philippine politics and defeat poverty.
But Erap has been ousted, peacefully and without widespread bloodshed or a military uprising. In that, the People Power Revolution of 2001 was successful. Today the Philippines welcomes this new millenium with a much better outlook on the future than it had two weeks ago.
Praise God. He has delivered us, and given us hope. Praise God.