First Things First

June 2, 2016 | Author: Albert Tayag | Category: Types, Business/Law, Court Filings
Share Embed Donate

Short Description



First things first By Francisco S. Tatad

Impeaching Aquino

“A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on Kalayaan Avenue near Batasan. Nothing was moving. Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, „What‟s going on?‟ “ „Terrorists have kidnapped the entire House of Representatives and the Senate, and they‟re asking for a P100 million ransom. Otherwise, they‟re going to douse them all in petrol and set them on fire. We‟re going from car to car, collecting donations.‟ “ „How much is everyone giving, on the average?‟ the driver asks. “The man replies, „Roughly a liter.‟ ” This story first appeared online when public attention was focused solely on Janet Lim Napoles and the lawmakers implicated in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam. It is not attributed to any author, but you will agree it is a real gem. It has since morphed after President B. S. Aquino III was reported to have lunched privately with Napoles before she “surrendered” to him on the evening of August 28, and after Senate President Franklin Drilon and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad confirmed Sen. Jinggoy Estrada‟s revelation on the Senate floor on Sept. 25 that Malacanang gave P50 million apiece to the senators who had voted to convict the impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012, except for Panfilo Lacson who got nothing, Juan Ponce Ernile who got P92 million, Francis Escudero who got P99 million, and Drilon who got P100 million. In the new version, the hostages now include Aquino, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Budget Secretary Abad, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, massaging director Ramon Carandang, deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte. And the ransom demanded has gone up to P10 billion. The traffic jam now covers the whole of EDSA, Roxas Boulevard and all the streets around Malacanang. And a whole army of volunteers are now going from car to car, collecting donations. And how much is everyone giving on the average? asks one driver. “Full tank,” is the answer.

We do not wish anything like this to happen to Aquino, and we should all be sorry if it did. But there is a rising call to shut down the “student council government,” and replace it with a real government that is truly honest and has some demonstrable competence. Unable to justify his criminal misuse of public funds to impeach and convict a sitting Supreme Court Chief Justice, Aquino has challenged his critics to file an impeachment complaint against him before the House of Representatives. Aquino is obviously confident he still has the congressmen and the senators eating out of his hands, despite the mega scandal that has shaken his rule to its very foundations. Most of those who sat in the last Congress as his hirelings and wards may not be ready to abandon him just yet. But we, the people, must not disappoint the President; we have a duty to accept his challenge. Under the Constitution, any citizen may file an impeachment complaint, provided it is endorsed by at least one member of the House. The complaint is referred to the Committee on Justice, which shall decide whether the complaint is sufficient in form and substance. From the Committee, the Articles of Impeachment shall be transmitted to the Senate, which has the sole power to try and decide all impeachment cases, if it is supported by at least one-third of the entire House membership. Then trial “shall forthwith proceed.” As of now, Aquino has full control of the Congress. Even the House minority bloc, headed by Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, and derisively referred to as the “Majo-minority”, is basically supportive of Aquino. Only the independent “Third Force” headed by Leyte congressman Ferdinand Martin Romualdez may be counted upon to stand against the President, but it does not have the numbers to send any Article of Impeachment against Aquino to the Senate. It does not have any of the funds Aquino used in 2011 to make 188 congressmen sign the Articles of Impeachment against then-Chief Justice Renato Corona, even without their reading and verifying the document. But this is no reason to give up the fight even before it begins. By documenting in detail the bribery of Congress, public support for the impeachment process could be so whipped up that any number of congressmen could ultimately rediscover their consciences and support impeachment. This is where the middle class, civil society, faith-based organizations, big business, and the social media could help. They have to work on the survival instincts of the legislators, who will not want to perish with the sinking ship. This is just the first round though. After Aquino is impeached (if ever) by the House, the Senate will have to try and decide his case. Under the Constitution, the Supreme Court Chief Justice presides over the trial if and when the President is impeached. But since CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno was appointed by Aquino after Corona‟s conviction and removal, an ethical and legal question might prevent her from presiding or she might

simply want to recuse. The Constitution does not say who shall preside if and when that happens. The situation was simply not anticipated. More than that, since the senators who had convicted Corona and had received P50 million or more after the event, from Abad‟s constitutionally questionable “Disbursement Acceleration Program,” still constitute three-fourths plus one of the 24-member Senate, can there be a trial if out of delicadeza most, if not all, of the 19 senators resign or recuse? Alternatively, will the Articles of Impeachment be given due course, if they do not recuse? Will the requisite two-thirds (or 16 senatorjudges) find the courage to convict the most palpably guilty respondent? Unless the senator-judges decide to do to Aquino (at least figuratively) what Brutus and the others did to Caesar at the Roman Senate, the whole exercise could be nothing but a farce. Clearly Aquino knew nothing would happen to him when he said “impeach me!” to his critics. He should have said “oust me!” instead, to see how the people would respond to the challenge. [email protected] __._,_.___

View more...


Copyright ©2017 KUPDF Inc.