The Philippine Supreme Court has issued a TRO that prevented
the impeachment court to have a subpoenaed bank divulge account[s] of Chief Justice Corona. The TRO is specific to any that falls under Republic Act 6426, or the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (FCDA). It stayed clear of Republic Act 1405, or the Bank Secrecy Act, which then left wide leeway to the opening of information on several peso-accounts owning to the CJ. It was issued upon a motion by the bank, actually.
RA 1405 allows the opening of bank accounts in cases as impeachment. RA 6426 specifies written permission of the owner of an account for its divulgence.
The TRO has been viewed by prosecutors as an intervention by the SC in the impeachment process. By itself, I don’t think the SC intervened in the big meaning and in the serious implications of the word. This made me post a comment somewhere, excerpts hereunder:
I think the supreme court never intervened for anybody, anywhere, anytime. It only receives the complaint. It must act on them. It likes doing them or not. It [SC], they [justices], must.
But, does the Supreme Court really intervene with the impeachment? I think the right-of-way of the Impeachment Court has never been in question. Nobody has questioned it. Nobody is questioning it.
There were series of events that led to the defense running to the Supreme court for relief. I think the TRO came at a time better than if the SC might or will say later that the impeachment court had been party to what the SC might say is [anything not good]. The impeachment court, being not really a party to prosecution, has choices between agreeing with the prosecution on their interpretations of the constitutions and by laws, or to honor the TRO from the SC, so it seems now. I think it would be safe for the impeachment court to give a little room for the SC at some distance.
(past and past participle in·ter·vened, present participle in·ter·ven·ing, 3rd person present singular in·ter·venes)intransitive verb1. become involved in situation: to involve yourself deliberately in a situation, especially in a conflict or dispute, in order to influence what is happening and, most often, to prevent undesirable consequences2. have preventive or delaying effect: to occur or take effect in such a way as to stop or delay something3. elapse: to elapse between one point in time and another4. break into conversation: to break into a conversation or discussion5. be situated in between: to be located between two things6. law enter lawsuit: to enter a lawsuit as a third party in order to protect your own interests7. economics act to manipulate economic markets: to take economic action that is designed to counter a trend in a market, especially in order to stabilize a country’s currency
[Late 16th century. < Latin intervenire “come between” < venire“come”]
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The apparent conflicts between Malacañang and some legislators in one hand and the
Supreme court in the other hand, made people to worry of a constitutional crisis. Malacañang Palace says that such a crisis is “malabo” [unlikely to happen].
Not only the possibility is there. Filipinos may not be in the eye of a constitutional crisis but they are already in the dark cloud of such a storm. I think the constitution is in effect being questioned by the President and his men.
There are times when people can debate in public on what they cannot agree with, without any problem to them. They are so when the subject is hypothetical or the exercise is academic. Any question to the constitution right in the middle of a difficult real situation is, I think, itself a constitutional crisis. There is a difference between amending a law and subverting a law, the high forms of them.
That [duty and obligation of the SC] being it, a constitutional-political crisis is not impossible. Right now some legislators want the supreme court to totally stay out. The way some legislators act, it is possible the SC upon complaint might say the rights of the defendant is violated during the impeachment. Executive and Legislative could override the Judiciary. We have a collision when or if that happens. We can only imagine the rest.
The TRO handed to the Impeachment court was promulgated by the Supreme court after a vote of 8-5 with 2 abstentions. Cong Rodolfo Fariñas, member of the Impeachment prosecution panel has called for the impeachment of the 8 justices who favored the TRO.
No doubt Malacañang has the numbers in the lower house of congress where impeachments are born. The impeachment of the Chief Justice passing in there without or without much house deliberations has proven it. But Cong Feleciano Belmonte, the current head of the lower house, although a known ally of the President, has been quite apologetic for Cong Fariñas’ action.
Right now, the critical theater is the Senate where the impeachment of the Chief Justice is being handled. Has Malacañang the numbers in there to finally impeach Justice Corona, too? Most political analysts will say yes.
But Philippine Senate in general, especially Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, has been trying to show impartiality in handling the proceeding.
Senator Enrile’s tenure as Senate President has always been threatened by coup. Nearest contender would be Senator Franklin Drilon, a staunch ally of the President. But a coup would not be necessary. In the Senate that is acting as an impeachment court, anybody can be overruled.
People could wake up one morning under a declared or undeclared revolutionary government. It might not be planned. It could just happen. A Judiciary that, in deed or in effect, might be gagged and suspended or arrested by the Legislative and Executive branches of government.
And that is not actually stated in the constitutions. But it can be squeezed by the Executives into the shell of an emergency rule and then hatched. And the Philippine constitution saw only an independent Legislative branch to check that, which in the imagined scenario based on how things are, is likely a mere formality rather than functional. We see a scenario of the Legislative, more than checking, ganging up with the Executives over the [Supreme Court and the] Judiciary.
Well, if that would not be a constitutional storm enough that can develop into a political one. Whether Revolutionary government or dictatorship, then, are but matters of opinion.
This has always been a natural material world. Behind the rhetoric about good governance it is hard for the situation not to develop into a simple struggle for power and survival.
“The symptoms of this weak state are the large gap between rich and poor—a gap that has been exploited for political ends—and a political system based on patronage and, ultimately, corruption to support that patronage,” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former President.
That is where PGMA has been. Stated one way differently, as political power is harangued and harassed, it gathers all forces around it and in the end their interests – personal survival – become one, or are one of symbiosis. A formidable machinery whose loyalty is to itself is formed, by people tolerant of one another, and whose mainstay is the President.
Filipinos have seen history repeated times and again. We have the ingredients of past failures very much around. It is hard to hope for something very different under the same old circumstances.
The Two Views on the Matter
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is being impeached for culpable violations of the constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption – that’s the legalistic side of it.
The President, even before he was sworn into office, has never liked the Chief Justice, and his camp is busy working on that – that’s the politics’ side of it.
Meanwhile, things are drifting towards a storm and pointed to the eye of it.