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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

¿Quo Vadis?

Not all is lost. Yet.

So, the administration solons have thrown the amended complaint into the garbage. So what? That is not the end of the impeaching proceedings. The end of the proceedings is the transmittal of the Articles of Impeachment. Unlike Ms. Susan Roces, I have yet to give up on the impeachment process. The opposition can still bring back the amended Lozano complaint.

How? Get the 79 votes.

Once the opposition gets the 79 votes, they would have complied with the constitutional requirement to shift the impeachment proceeding from the House to an impeachment case in the Senate. But before transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate, here is a concern which I shall hazard to answer.

Suppose the opposition secures the 79 votes even before the Justice Committee shall have submitted their report to the plenary, much less finish the committee hearings, will they have to wait for the referral of the report to the plenary before they can override or overturn the Justice Committee Report?

No, if the 79 signatures will be secured prior to submission of the Justice Committee Report to the plenary or prior to the completion of the Justice Committee hearings and the report, the opposition need not wait for the report to be referred to the plenary or wait for the hearings to be terminated. The mere fact that the opposition is able to secure the 79 votes already constitutes the sense of the House to transmit the impeachment case to the Senate. And according to Manuel L. Quezon III, Cong. Zamora mentioned that once the 79 votes are secured, the opposition will inform the Justice Committee by a motion and move to the plenary for debates. However, I am not certain that moving to the plenary for debates is still required.

Under the 1987 Constitution, a report of the Justice Committee may be overturned by a vote of 1/3 of the House. That presumes that at the time of referral of the Justice Committee Report to the plenary and prior to or during the debates, the solons who were not involved in the proceedings before the Justice Committee are still mulling whether to affirm or override the Justice Committee Report. In other words, there are no 79 votes yet at the time of plenary debates.

The provision however is silent as to a situation where 79 votes have already been obtained prior to the referral. Since the Constitution mandates that a vote of 1/3 of the House or 79 votes is the minimum requirement to transmit the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, securing 79 votes prior to the plenary debates actually forecloses the plenary to conduct debates. Obtaining 79 votes render the plenary debates a superfluity because the debates will not add one whiff at all to the legality of sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.

Therefore, the only role the plenary will play is: (1) to affirm that 79 votes have been secured to overturn any decision or action, if there is no report yet; or if the report has been referred to the plenary, to overturn such report; (2) to affirm the decision of the 79 votes to utilize the Amended Lozano Complaint as the basis for the Articles of Impeachment should the pro-impeachment choose to do so because the 79 votes effectively overturns the Justice Committee. Incidentally, by the 79 votes, the amended Lozano complaint shall be deemed to be sufficient in form and substance; and; (3) to transmit, by way of a House Resolution, the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.

Whereas, it was the tyranny of the majority that dominated the hearings in the Justice Committee, the 1987 Constitution returns the favor to the opposition and gives them license to exercise in the plenary, what John Nery coins, the tyranny of the minority.

Of course, if this happens, expect my friend and classmate, Ernesto “Jun” Francisco, Jr., or any fellow wanting his 15 minutes of fame to probably file a petition for certiorari and leave his name as a legacy in another landmark case.

¿Quo vadis? Either to the dumps, to the Senate or to the Supreme Court. Get the 79 and off we go to see the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.


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