Monday The 16th

Friday the 13th Vs Monday the 16th

Today is Friday the 13th …Many have superstitions attached to this date that will happen 3 times this year, January, April and July….But I think the people would have to fear more Monday the 16th…for it’s the start of the Impeachment Trial..

Going back in history, The impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada started last December 7, 2000 and was aborted on January 16, 2001 after the House prosecutors walkedout from the impeachment proceedings, to protest against the perceived dictatorial tendency of the eleven senator-judges, who supported Joseph Estrada, this walkout led to EDSA Revolution of 2001 and the downfall of president Estrada.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was accused in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 impeachment complaints for different imputations, specially attempting lying, cheating and stealing during 2004 presidential election against opposition candidate Fernando Poe, Jr.. However all impeachment cases were failed due to absence of one third vote from the members of the Congress.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was impeached on March 22, 2011 on charges of the office’s underperformance and failure to act on several cases during then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration. The first impeachment complaint against Gutierrez was filed in 2009, but was dismissed later in that year in a House dominated by Arroyo’s Lakas Kampi CMD party.

Chief Justice Renato Corona got impeached by the house of representatives last December12, 2011 after a meeting of the lower house. The House impeached Corona for alleged graft and corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust. Of 284 congressmen, 188 signed the impeachment complaint, more than the required 95 signatures under the Constitution.

According to history, Chief Justice Renato Corona is the first head of Philippine judiciary system that has been impeached. Most of us saw this coming. Just like the saying said “If you can’t kick them, impeach them!” -err or did we say it wrong?

The impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona took a different route from the case of former President Joseph Estrada and former Ombusdsman Merceditas Gutierrez. Instead of a filing made by a citizen and endorsed by a Member of the House of Representatives, the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment was signed by 188 Congressmen which more than complies with the one-third requirement under Section 3 (4), Article XI of the 1987 Constitution. As a result of this fast-track process, the verified complaint no longer passed thru the House Committee on Justice to determine if it is sufficient in form and substance. Moreover, because of this method, the verified complaint already constitutes the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed

Under Section 3 (6), Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, the Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. When sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be on oath or affirmation. Since for this particular case the person on trial is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, only the Senate President shall preside. To get the ball rolling, CJ Corona would have to be formally issued a writ of summons and a copy of the Articles of Impeachment after which he would have 10 days to give his Answer. Once the Senate receives the Answer, the prosecution team from the House of Representatives will have five days to submit their reply, should they opt to do so. The concurrence of two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate is needed to convict the Chief Justice.

These were all done and completed, and we now wait for the January 16, which is on Monday already, start of the Impeachment Trial.

 

The Senate Rules On Impeachment

According to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who acts as the presiding officer, the impeachment court will first conduct a preliminary hearing to establish the validity of the complaint.

The preliminary hearing, as requested by Corona, will determine whether the impeachment complaint is complete and verified by one-third of the members of the House of Representatives as required by the Constitution.

 

Senate blocks off afternoons for trial

Once the court establishes the validity of theimpeachment complaint, the trial will proceed in the Senate, which will block off the afternoons to conduct the proceedings. Senators will hold lawmaking sessions in the morning.

Based on Senate Resolution No. 39 or the rules of procedure on impeachment trials, Corona or any agent or counsel representing him will be called to appear and answer the articles of impeachment.

Retired Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas is the lead counsel of Corona’s defense panel. Cuevas was also part of former president Joseph Estrada’s defense team in his impeachment trial in 2000.

Meanwhile, the House will act as the sole prosecutor through a committee of 11 members elected by a majority vote. Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. of the 5th district of Iloilo, chair of the House committee on justice, serves as the team’s chief public prosecutor.

 

Power to call witnesses

The impeachment rules state that the Senate has the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and to enforce obedience to its orders. The Senate can also “make all lawful orders, rules and regulations which it may deem essential or conducive to the ends of justice.”

During the trial, witnesses will be examined by one person on behalf of the party producing them and then cross-examined by one person on the other side. A senator-judge can question both the witness and the prosecutor or counsel as well.

Enrile, the presiding officer on the trial, will rule on all questions of materiality, relevancy, competency or admissibility of evidence, which will stand as the judgment of the Senate.

 

Trial may last six months

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said the length of the trial will depend on the evidence presented to the court but he estimated that it may last up to six months.

The rules state that the senator-judges must observe political neutrality during the course of the impeachment trial. “Political neutrality” is defined in the Senate resolution as the exercise of public official’s duty without unfair discrimination and regardless of party affiliation or preference.

While the trial is open to the public, the rules prohibit members of the Senate, prosecutors, Corona and their respective counsel and witnesses from making any comments and disclosures in public pertaining to the merits of a pending impeachment trial.

The senator-judges will vote whether the impeachment is sustained after the trial of all the articles of impeachment is completed. The Senate needs two-thirds vote, or in this case 16 votes, to convict and unseat Corona as Chief Justice.

 

Conviction

If convicted, the Chief Justice shall be removed from office and shall be disqualified to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines. He will also be liable and subject to prosecution, trial, and punishment according to law. It is, thus, clear that the liability does not end at the Senate, the person impeached shall also be held for appropriate action as a result of his illegal and improper acts.

There is a rumor that if things go terribly wrong for Renato Corona, retired Major General Jovito Palparan (who’s been in hiding because of a warrant of arrest against him, may show up at the Senate and slash up into pieces all the Prosecution team members including the Senators who will vote for Conviction..He is after all “The Butcher” of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo…..hehehe

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Monday The 16th « Troll Alert ! | Pnoy Talks

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