Congressmen violated their own rules on Sereno case PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 24 November 2017 15:15

KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

 

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…It is time for you to act, Lord; your law is being broken…” (Psalm 119:126, the Holy Bible).

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CONGRESSMEN VIOLATED THEIR OWN RULES: Yes, it went just like what I wrote here earlier. The process of impeachment in Congress is not anchored on the law, but on the numbers alone of lawmakers who will vote on the issue. This was clearly shown by the hearing of the Justice Committee of the lower house on Wednesday, 22 November 2017.

According to the House of Representatives’ Rules on Impeachment, the official whose impeachment is being sought has the right to ask questions and to cross-examine the people who filed the complaint of impeachment.

This rule was clearly the basis of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal  Sereno on the request that she and her lawyer made for the cross-examination of lawyer Larry Gadon, the complainant who filed the impeachment complaint against her. The problem was that, the Justice Committee itself disregarded its own rules by refusing to allow Gadon’s cross-examination by Sereno.

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DISREGARDING LAWS IS A PRELUDE TO ANARCHY: This kind of a system that is at work at the House of Representatives (and even in the Senate)—where decisions are simply based on the numerical superiority of the friends or foes of an official who is subject of an impeachment case—clearly destroys democracy and the rule of law in this country.

The decision of the members of the Justice Committee on Wednesday showed to all and sundry that lawmakers can bend and ignore or disregard rules, as long as there is a sufficient number of them who will agree to the bending or the disregard of those rules.

It has become clear that laws are no longer important at this point in our history as a nation. What is more important now is whether one is a friend or an enemy of whoever is enforcing the law. In sum, this kind of system entices anarchy in the country, because people from all levels of society are encouraged to disregard existing laws and act on their own volition.

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SC CAN MEDDLE ON IMPEACHMENT OF SERENO: I wouldn’t be surprised if Sereno’s camp will bring the Justice Committee’s Wednesday decision to the Supreme Court. The issue is clearly justiciable—can the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives disregard House rules, especially if the rules were crafted not by the committee alone but by the whole plenary?

Of course, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his House subalterns are saying that the Supreme Court has no right to meddle on the processes involving lawmakers., particularly impeachment. But this view of the Speaker, who is himself a lawyer, is not in accordance with what the Constitution says, with due respect.

As of now, the Supreme Court is vested with the power to meddle onevery act that different governmental agencies carry out, including the executive and legislative departments, if its justices can see that these agencies committed grave abuse of their power. This power of the Supreme Court is now called “judicial power”, and it is enshrined under Section 1, Art. 8 of the 1987 Constitution. It extends even to the impeachment now of Sereno.

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