Blog Lecture No. 6: Impeachment

Some of my friends have told me that all my blog-lectures are good bar tips…

So class, RECESS is over! Let me take you back to 2001 and let us review impeachment…

As you may know, but have forgotten, impeachment is governed by Article XI of the 1987 Constitution (aptly titled “Accountability of Public Officers”). The relevant sections of this article reads:

Section 1. Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.

Section 2. The President, Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.

Section 3. (1) The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.

(2) A verified complaint may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof.

(3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded.

(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.

(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.

(6) 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. When the President of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside, but shall not vote. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.

(7) Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines, but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to prosecution, trial, and punishment according to law.

(8) The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this section.

What is impeachment?

From the Estrada impeachment web documents, impeachment is “a process of national inquest into the conduct of public officials and the bringing of charges against them for misconduct in office.” If, at the end of the process, the impeachable officer is found guilty of an impeachable offense, he/she shall be removed from office and further disqualified from holding any public office in the country.

Who are the only public officers that can be impeached?

They are:

1. The President
2. The Vice-President
3. Supreme Court Justices
4. Any member of the three Constitutional Commissions (namely the Comission on Elections, the Commission on Audit and the Civil Service Commission)
5. The Ombudsman

How about the Commission on Human Rights? It’s also a commission established by the constitution?

Arguably, it is, especially if you’re a commissioner there about to be sacked. However, there are other arguments to say otherwise:

a. There is a separate section in the constitution called “Constitutional Commissions” (Article IX, 1987 Constitution). The Commission on Human Rights is not one of them.

b. This portion on impeachment can be found before the portion on the Commission on Human Rights. Hence, this may be interpreted as an intention to exclude the members thereof from the impeachable officers’ list.

Anyway, what are the grounds for impeachment?

They are:

1. Culpable violation of the Constitution

It is the deliberate and wrongful breach of the Constitution. Violation of the Constitution made unintentionally, in good faith, and mere mistakes in the proper construction of the Constitution do not constitute and impeachable offense.

2. Treason

It is committed by any person who, owing allegiance to the Government of the Philippines, not being a foreigner, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort within the Philippines or elsewhere. (Art. 114, Revised Penal Code)

3. Bribery

Bribery as an impeachable offense may either be Direct Bribery or Indirect Bribery.

Direct bribery – It is committed by any public officer who shall agree to perform an act constituting a crime, in connection with the performance of this official duties, in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present received by such officer, personally or through the mediation of another.

If the object for which the gift was received or promised was to make the public officer refrain from doing something which it was his official duty to do. (Art. 210, Revised Penal Code)

Indirect bribery. -It is committed by a public officer when he accept gifts offered to him by reason of his office. (Art. 211, Revised Penal Code)

4. Graft and Corruption

This must be understood in the light of the provisions of the Republic Act No. 3019, Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Any violation of the prohibited acts provided therein constitutes a ground for impeachment.

5. Other high crimes or Betrayal of Public Trust

The exact meaning of “other high crimes or betrayal of public trust” as an impeachable offense is still undefined. The framers of the Constitution put impeachment into the hands of the legislative branch and transformed it from a matter of legal definition to a matter of political judgment. Hence, the definition of an impeachable offense depends on the majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be a given moment in history.

In impeachment investigation against President Quirino, the special committee of the House of Representatives referred “other high crimes” as to those crimes which, like treason and bribery, are of so serious and enormous a nature as to affect the very life or orderly workings of the government.

Betrayal of Public Trust, on the other hand, is a new ground for impeachment, which covers “any violation of the oath of office involving loss of popular support even if the violation may not amount to a punishable offense.” (De Leon, Philippine Constitutional Law, 1999, Rex Printing Company, Inc., p.757)

Your “Gloriagate” may be placed here.

This is lifted verbatim from this link. I was supposed to just link to it directly but it is a slow-loading site…

I don’t have too much time to read your blog, can you give me just the steps in the impeachment process?

1. Filing of verified (sworn to or “notarized”) complaint (by Congressman or any citizen with an endorsement of a Congressman)

2. Inquiry on impeachment resolution (if by direct resolution: proceed to step 6 immediately)

3. Investigation by House Judiciary Committee (in matters of form and substance)

4. Committee Report with Draft resolution (whether to impeach or not)

5. Voting by at least one-third of House members

6. Transmittal to Senate

7. Trial by Senate

What is direct resolution?

In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.

What is the ultimate effect of impeachment?

If tried and found guilty, an impeached officer is removed from his office (not physically…) and becomes disqualified in holding any other public office.

What about the “crimes” an impeaced officer commit?

An impeached officer (especially the President) then looses immunity from suit and hence, can be prosecuted criminally and sued civilly for the so-called crimes he/she has committed.

What else do you need to know?

No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.

The impeachment proceedings always starts from the House of Representatives.

Watch out! The quiz is coming soon…

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Blog Lecture No. 6: Impeachment

  1. Sam

    Sir, off topic pero gusto ko lang i-relate sa lecture nyo question ko:

    Are there any local and/or international instrumentalities that can justify the ouster of a President by the people through extra-legal means (violent or non-violent)?

  2. Kung natatandaan ko pa ang international law ko…these instrumentalities can just air their views on why a President should be ousted. But these can never be a “legally” binding authority to oust any President. Kahit nga any other State cannot interfere with another State’s internal affairs (under the principle of independence).

    Also, ang level of dealing sa international law ay “state” to “state.” Meaning, hindi ka-level state ang lesser instrumentality, unless agreed to by the state itself through treaties and other agreements (e.g. UN, UNICEF, WHO, WB, IMF, etc.)

    At most nga, these instrumentalities can publish its findings and the other States can withdraw support for another State’s present government or even cut diplomatic relations with that State.

    This, of course, does not cover the activities of agencies like the CIA, etc. which I know nothing about…

    Hope this answers your concerns…Sam.

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