It has always been said that impeachment is a political rather than a judicial process. But it is supposed to be based on solid complaints which go through a process outlined in the Constitution.
The House of Representatives Committee on Justice studies the complaints and decides if they are sufficient, first in form, then in substance. If they meet these two criteria and the committee approves the complaints, they move up to the plenary session where the entire House votes on them. If approved by the House, the complaints move on to the Senate which then sits as a court, tries the case, and makes the final decision of conviction or acquittal.
In the case of Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, an unusual thing happened. The Committee on Justice, by a vote of 26-2, rejected the complaints as insufficient in form. But then the entire House took over and voted 135-75-2 to impeach Bautista.
Congress leaders said this is allowed, but it is most unusual. One congressman said the House should have returned the case to the Committee on Justice for a review so it could determine if the complaints were sufficient in both form and substance and it could then send a “proper” decision to the entire body.
Some powerful reasons moved the House to set aside the established procedure – to ignore the findings of its Committee on Justice and vote for impeachment. But, as has been repeatedly said, impeachment is a political process.
Before the House vote, Chairman Bautista had written a letter of resignation offering to step down on December 31, about two and a half months from now. Evidently, the offer was not sufficient reason to keep the members of the House from acting as decisively as they did.
One other high official is now facing impeachment complaints – Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Maria Lourdes Sereno – in connection with some of her official actions and her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth. After the Committee on Justice voted for her impeachment last October 5, her spokespersons said Congress may be a numbers game, but truth and justice are not numbers games. “The Chief Justice remains confident that in the end truth and justice will prevail.”
We share that hope with them but at the same time we must be ready to face the reality when it comes, as it did to Comelec Chairman Bautista.
ASEAN NEWSPAPER OPINIONS AND EDITORIALS
7.1. Sea change – The Daily Tribune
7.2. Impeachment: Numbers vs truth and justice– The Manila Bulletin
7.3. Burst this trial balloon– The Manila Standard
7.4. ANTI-DUTERTE GROUPS AND WAR VS DRUGS– The Manila Times
7.5. Better climate for investment– The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
7.6. Our hands, our future– The Phil Star
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