Purpose:• A panel discussion is a public exchange of ideas with a goal of informing audience members about a particular subject or issue. Its like Brainstorming. We are here to inform you more about our topic "Impeachment for Dummies: A primer".
Impeachment• An impeachment is a statement of “verified” charges filed by at least one third (95) of Congressmen. It is not a conviction. Like an indictment in a criminal case, the accused still has to be tried.
• An impeachment is a political process not a legal one. Thus, the accused may be “convicted” even if he has not committed a crime: The Senators may simply deem he is unfit to hold his office.• For Erap’s condition, he was detained because of a Sandiganbayan decision, not because of the impeachment trial.
• The prosecution is represented by 11 Congressmen called Representative-Prosecutors.• The prosecutors and Senators are not bound by court rules of procedure and evidence. However they must be fair and consistent.• The Senators, most of them non- lawyers, are expected to vote based on public interest, not necessarily on the law. Their verdict is not appealable.
• The President, VP, Supreme Court Justices, Members of a Constitutional Commission and the Ombudsman can be impeached for “Culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes or violation of public trust”. Only Erap and Ombudsman Gutierrez have ever been impeached.• The other charges are self-explanatory.
Culpable violation of the Constitution• the willful disregard of the fundamental law
Other high crimes• offenses so serious as to affect the orderly workings of Government.
Betrayal of the public trust• denotes any act unbecoming of a public official such as abuse of authority or neglect of duty
THE CHARGES• For being partial in cases involving GMA.• For non-disclosure of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).• For flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases.• For breaching the Constitutional separation of powers by issuing a status quo ante in the impeachment against the Ombudsman Gutierrez.
• For arbitrariness and for resurrecting decided cases involving the status of 16 newly created cities and promotion of Dinagat Island into a province.• For partiality in granting the TRO and related decisions in the GMA travel matter.• Improperly exculpating Justice del Castillo in the plagiarism case.• For not adequately accounting for the Judiciary Dev. Fund and Special Allowances.
THE DEFENSE• The Articles are defective because they have not been “verified” by the 188 signatories as constitutionally required. “Verification” means reading the complaint and affirming the charges based on the evidence.• The SC is a collegial body in which the Chief Justice is only one of 15 votes.• As with the other Justices, the CJ has administratively if not “publicly” disclosed his SALNs. Only two, Carpio and Sereno, have publicly disclosed theirs.
• Theoretically, the Senators should vote based on the evidence.• The public seems to favor a conviction because it sees Corona as an extension of GMA.• There are 9 likely to convict, 9 undecided, and 5 unlikely. Only 8 are needed to acquit.
• The key to the public, the one they understand and the easiest to prove if at all, is the case for ill-gotten wealth even though, ironically, it is not specified in the Articles. If this is bullet-proof then we will have a new Chief Justice. Otherwise a conviction is challenging unless the CJ resigns.
Question• Do you believe that Chief Justice Corona is guilty?