January 2001
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Month January 2001

January 20, 2001, Saturday

12 noon – Gloria takes her oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines.

12:20 p.m. – The PSG distributes firearms to some people inside the compound.

The President is having his final meal at the Presidential Residence with the few friends and Cabinet members who have gathered.

By this time, demonstrators have already broken down the first line of defense at Mendiola. Only the PSG is there to protect the Palace, since the police and military have already withdrawn their support for the President.

1 p.m. – The President’s personal staff is rushing to pack as many of the Estrada family’s personal possessions as they can.

During lunch, Ronie Puno mentions that the President needs to release a final statement before leaving Malacañang.

The statement reads:

At twelve o’clock noon today, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines. While along with many other legal minds of our country, I have strong and serious doubts about the legality and constitutionality of her proclamation as president, I do not wish to be a factor that will prevent the restoration of unity and order in our civil society.

It is for this reason that I now leave Malacañang Palace, the seat of the presidency of this country, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation. I leave the Palace of our people with gratitude for the opportunities given to me for service to our people. I will not shrik from any future challenges that may come ahead in the same service of our country.

I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity.

May the Almighty bless our country and our beloved people.

MABUHAY!

January 20, 2001, Saturday

I explain what happened during the first round of negotiations. The President immediately stresses that he just wants the five-day period promised by Reyes, as well as to open the second envelope to clear his name.

If the envelope is opened, on Monday, he says, he will leave by Monday.

The President says. “Pagod na pagod na ako. Ayoko na masyado nang masakit. Pagod na ako sa red tape, bureaucracy, intriga. (I am very tired. I don’t want any more of this – it’s too painful. I’m tired of the red tape, the bureaucracy, the intrigue.) I just want to clear my name, then I will go.”

January 20, 2001, Saturday

11:20 a.m. – I am all set to fax General Reyes and Nene Pimentel our agreement, signed by our side and awaiting the signature of the United Opposition.

And then it happens. General Reyes calls me to say that the Supreme Court has decided that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is President and will be sworn in at 12 noon.

‘Bakit hindi naman kayo nakahintay? Paano na ang agreement (Why couldn’t you wait? What about the agreement)?’ I asked.

Reyes answered: ‘Wala na, sir (It’s over, sir).’

I asked him: ‘Di yung transition period, moot and academic na?’

And General Reyes answer: ‘Oo nga, i-delete na natin, sir (Yes, we’re deleting that part).’

Contrary to subsequent reports, I do not react and say that there was a double cross.

But I immediately instruct Macel to delete the first provision on resignation since this matter is already moot and academic. Within moments, Macel erases the first provision and faxes the documents, which have been signed by myself, Dondon and Macel to Nene Pimentel and General Reyes.

I direct Demaree Ravel to rush the original document to General Reyes for the signatures of the other side, as it is important that the provision on security, at least, should be respected.

I then advise the President that the Supreme Court has ruled that Chief Justice Davide will administer the oath to Gloria at 12 noon.

The president is too stunned for words.

January 20, 2001, Saturday

11:00 a.m. – Between General Reyes and myself, there is a firm agreement on the five points to effect a peaceful transition. I can hear the general clearing all these points with a group he is with. I hear voices in the background.

The agreement starts:

1. The President shall resign today, 20 January 2001, which resignation shall be effective on 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice President will assume the presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.

The rest of the agreement follows:

2. The transition process for the assumption of the new administration shall commence on 20 January 2001, wherein persons designated by the Vice President to various government positions shall start orientation activities with incumbent officials.

3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines through its Chief of Staff, shall guarantee the safety and security of the President and his families throughout their natural lifetimes as approved by the national military and police authority – Vice President.

4. The AFP and the Philippine National Police (‘PNP’) shall function under the Vice President as national military and police authorities.

5. Both parties request the impeachment court to open the second envelope in the impeachment trial, the contents of which shall be offered as proof that the subject savings account does not belong to the President.

The Vice President shall issue a public statement in the form and tenor provided for in Annex ‘B’ heretofore attached to this agreement.

 

January 20, 2001, Saturday

7:30 a.m. – Rene arrives with Bert Romulo and (Ms. Macapagal’s spokesperson) Rene Corona. For this round, I am accompanied by Dondon Bagatsing and Macel.

Rene pulls out a document titled “Negotiating Points.” It reads:

1. The President shall sign a resignation document within the day, 20 January 2001, that will be effective on Wednesday, 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice President will assume the Presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.

2. Beginning today, 20 January 2001, the transition process for the assumption of the new administration shall commence, and persons designated by the Vice president to various positions and offices of the government shall start their orientation activities in coordination with the incumbent officials concerned.

3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police shall function under the Vice President as national military and police effective immediately.

4. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, through its Chief of Staff, shall guarantee the security of the president and his family as approved by the national military and police authority (Vice President).

5. It is to be noted that the Senate will open the second envelope in connection with the alleged savings account of the President in the Equitable PCI Bank in accordance with the rules of the Senate, pursuant to the request to the Senate President.

We bring out, too, our discussion draft which reads:

The undersigned parties, for and in behalf of their respective principals, agree and undertake as follows:

1. A transition will occur and take place on Wednesday, 24 January 2001, at which time President Joseph Ejercito Estrada will turn over the presidency to Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

2. In return, President Estrada and his families are guaranteed security and safety of their person and property throughout their natural lifetimes. Likewise, President Estrada and his families are guaranteed freedom from persecution or retaliation from government and the private sector throughout their natural lifetimes.

This commitment shall be guaranteed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (‘AFP’) through the Chief of Staff, as approved by the national military and police authorities – Vice President (Macapagal).

3. Both parties shall endeavor to ensure that the Senate siting as an impeachment court will authorize the opening of the second envelope in the impeachment trial as proof that the subject savings account does not belong to President Estrada.

4. During the five-day transition period between 20 January 2001 and 24 January 2001 (the “Transition Period”), the incoming Cabinet members shall receive an appropriate briefing from the outgoing Cabinet officials as part of the orientation program.

During the Transition Period, the AFP and the Philippine National Police (‘PNP’) shall function under Vice President (Macapagal) as national military and police authorities.

Both parties hereto agree that the AFP chief of staff and PNP director general shall obtain all the necessary signatures as affixed to this agreement and insure faithful implementation and observance thereof.

Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shall issue a public statement in the form and tenor provided for in ‘Annex A’ heretofore attached to this agreement.