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SC can invalidate impeachment - Ombudsman


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, `children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky, as you hold firm to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain…” (Philippians 2:14-16, the Holy Bible).


UNPREPARED, OR NO EVIDENCE AT ALL? Here is something that many people do not understand: how come the congressmen-prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona appeared ever- ready to present their evidence before the media, and yet were totally unprepared for the Senate trial itself? Or, were they simply unprepared, or, they did not really have any evidence at all against the chief justice?


UNPREPAREDNESS NOT FUNNY: It would seem to many now that all that the congressmen-prosecutors wanted to do was to put pressure on Corona with all their disclosures of supposed wrong-doing, days before the impeachment trial started, evidently to compel him to resign.
In short, the congressmen-prosecutors were merely bluffing their way to the impeachment trial, evidently in the hope that Corona would be bullied into resigning. Now that Corona called their bluff, however, the congressmen suddenly do not have their evidence ready? Surely, this is not funny. For President Aquino and Corona’s critics, I mean.


PROSECUTION TEAM TO BE REPLACED? I will not be surprised if, in the days to come, the leadership of the House of Representatives will feel compelled to replace its prosecuting team. Signs are a-plenty that the team is simply no match for the seasoned trial lawyers that Corona assembled for his defense.

One glaring example of the present team’s lack of readiness and lack of standing viz-a-vis the defense lawyers appeared on the very first day of the trial when, after the parties were directed to give their opening arguments, a private lawyer was called to argue for the congressmen. Indeed, as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile may have been thinking, why should a private lawyer stand in place of the prosecutors? The private lawyer could argue better than the lawmakers, perhaps?


SC CAN INVALIDATE IMPEACHMENT: Corona’s critics and those wanting to see him ousted are arguing that the Supreme Court should not intervene in his on-going impeachment trial, because impeachment of an official like Corona represents the people’s will and intent, expressed through their duly-elected representatives in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Is this a correct position?

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said no, this is not correct, in the decision she wrote for the Supreme Court when she was still a part of the tribunal, in the case “Francisco Jr. vs. Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc.” G.R. No. 160261, November 10, 2003, setting aside arguments that “judicial review of impeachments undermines their finality and may lead to conflicts between Congress and the judiciary…”

Carpio Morales, upholding the power of the Supreme Court to act against the House and Senate even over impeachment proceedings, wrote: “But did not the people also express their will when they instituted (various) safeguards (for the exercise of the power of impeachment) in the Constitution?”

“This shows that the Constitution did not intend to leave the matter of impeachment to the sole discretion of Congress. Instead, it provided for certain well-defined limits, or in the language of Baker vs. Carr (369 US 186 [1962)]), `judicially discoverable standards’ for determining validity of the exercise of such discretion, through the power of judicial review,” Carpio Morales added.

By Atty. Batas Mauricio

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