Finally it is over. The chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court was finally impeached by the Philippine Senate today. He was impeached for failing to include in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net-worth [SAL-N] his Dollar-bank account with some “substantial” amount deposited in it .
It can be put differently. That the CJ was impeached for his wrong personal interpretation of a law. He says he is free not to include his dollar account in his SAL-Ns as it is covered by the Bank Secrecy law.
They are culpable violation of the constitutions and betrayal of public trust, the Senate ruled.
I have not really been following up the impeachment case, the local news actually, after a couple of weeks that it started, except in some instances.
As I remember it then, the lower House of Congress has impeached the Chief Justice for non-disclosure to the public of his SAL-N, among other articles. The other articles were laid aside in the Senate later. They were about the Chief Justice charged by the lower house for acts, acts that to them are questionable, which were actually acts of the Supreme Court and not acts of one person. One article questioned the manner the CJ voted in the SC, which is his freedom of prerogative.
But impeachment is what it is – a political exercise. What is needed is numbers. Getting enough votes, the resolution becomes an act of Congress or of the Senate. The act is legal and apparently cannot be questioned. Articles for impeachment, as demonstrated, may be mere formality. It’s been unlike in ordinary courts of law where a fiscal’s office determines prima facie evidence first before the case can be elevated to court. That ought to be the role of the lower house of congress in impeachment cases, are they not? In principle, they ought to be. The lower house has thrown out a case once, for lack of substance. But in practice, as we just saw, they don’t always do.
An impeachment is more of a one way street. They have always gone naturally in favor of Malacañang. There is a long story to that, but we are going a side.
When the Senate received the case from the lower house, it appeared that the CJ has been complying with the filing and submission of his SAL-Ns. It is the Supreme Court that ruled on non-disclosure of SAL-Ns unless a request for copy is approved by the Supreme Court. And that ruling has been there since before Corona became chief. Technically, Justice Corona has been disclosing his SAL-Ns to the public. SAL-Ns are public property. They are public documents under the care of government.
It should be noted that until the Senate subpoenaed the clerk of court for copies of the SAL-Ns, prosecutors did not have anything real to possibly base any argument. Later, when the SAL-Ns became open matter in the impeachment court, I remember the issue shifted from non-disclosure of SAL-N to non-inclusion of properties in the SAL-Ns. And next instances they were arguing about bank accounts allegedly not disclosed or included in the SAL-Ns. But the indignant part of them is that those kind of information ought to appear in court only upon order or subpoena of appropriate court.
Obviously, the prosecutors under Congressman Neil Tupas started their moves with the assumption that nobody is perfect. Lahat na tao kung hahanapan ng butas, ay may butas. They had almost limitless resources and boundless means behind them, for that.
It is obvious by the shoddy work of Congress that the strategy was simply to pass an impeachment resolution that could be rammed against the CJ by rule of numbers in the Senate. The congressman from Ilo-ilo can celebrate their victory but I think he took most of the dirt upon his face than he came out handsomer.
I have watched the Senate in TV when the verdict was read. I stayed until Senator Enrile was finished. I think only he made sense…non-disclosure of “substantial amount” in the SAL -N, was that the right phrase? The other speakers sounded more like hot rhetoric meant for the consumption of a hungry mob. They were saying that they are clean, in different words, is my summary of them. Fine.
“Substantial amount”. That is interesting. Because I am dead-sure 100% of people there in the impeachment court did not file a perfect SAL-N. Given all resources I can prove that. But right now you can call my idea a rotten fish because it is a conclusion I made before the facts.
CJ Corona must be ousted. That is my impression of it since the beginning. I guess he got tangled. And the irony of it all now is that prosecution is nowhere near proving that the impeached Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court stole a peso from the Filipino people, much more a plunderer that prosecution propaganda has successfully painted him.
Now, that settles it. Ang buhay ay weather-weather lang… What the President wants, the President gets – that is where former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was for 9 long years, except in the case of the MOA-AD. She was the most unpopular President that went in this republic. And for one who appeared to be in full control of the state I guess that’s how she became the fertilizer scam, the ZTE-NBN anomalous deal, the executioner of 800 or more victims of human rights violations. Amen.
Personally, I think the President was rid of some protection, which he saw was thorn in his side, in the person of justice Corona. But that is a long story and it looks like the President knows best his own business for himself.
OK, now, with no one in the way, maybe Filipinos can move forward and be brought out of the quagmires they’ve been in. But maybe next time, before any talk of any removal from office, a public official should be tried of direct violation. And once proven of offense that will constitute say, treason, they can be removed for culpable violation of the constitution based on that. That simplifies matter. Like, say, instead of trying to impeach PGMA for betrayal of public trust based on the “fertilizer scam”, why had not they proven first that there was a fertilizer scam which will constitute betrayal of public trust. More than half a decade later, Filipinos are not even sure if there was indeed that scam or not.
A special investigation and a conclusive report by Congress could perform a preliminary work of establishing facts. That in turn may provide something undeniably solid for further actions.
An allegation based on another un-established allegation is actually crazy. It is speculative. When acts that constitute culpable violation of the constitutions and or betrayal of public trust appear clear enough, then I guess that justifies filing them outright.
Otherwise it might also be wasting everybody’s time. Because arguments will be whether or not there was a violation that spells to say treason, anyway, so why should not people limit to direct violations, first? Congress and Senate have lots of important things to do. In the case of this impeachment, constrained by time, Senate had been rigid with the time frame. There is a negative side to that if everybody is talking about justice. Bitin ang maraming Filipino sa katotohanan.
In politics, crazy things can happen. As we have seen, the lower house impeached the Chief Justice, among other things for always voting in favor of then President Gloria Arroyo. Not only the allegation proved untrue but there is also no law that says he cannot vote in favor of what the President of the Republic of the Philippines stood for. If it was a case filed in the fiscal’s office, the case might have been dismissed. Because while in the lower house of Congress “nondisclosure” of SAL-N would have proven baseless. The CJ has a case of bad luck. What started to be ridiculous and speculative ended in his conviction. Still, I think impeachment needs refinement.
Impeached for an erroneous interpretation of a law, that sounds funny. That could not be a violation of the constitutions and by laws. Or else everybody who loses a case in court can automatically be called a criminal. A betrayal of public trust, well, maybe it can be squeezed into that. I think, Lawyer – International judge – Senator Miriam Santiago, said it better. In another time, this could have probably called for no serious than warning or reprimand.
They cannot even charge him now of direct offense, real or imagined. Because chances are he might be acquitted. And if that happens, it will appear that he was impeached over nothing.
And to the many of the blood thirsty mobs in the streets, probably it was just a case of plunderers killing one of their kind for sacrifice. And the mob’s lust for blood is insatiable; so, who’s gonna be their next food, folks?