A Third Way?
This week, under the 13th Congress Rules, the Justice Committee will submit its resolution and report to the plenary and the latter will decide with finality whether to affirm or override the Justice Committee Report. Under the 1987 Constitution, the action of the plenary appears to be an either-or proposition. It either affirms the report or overrides it. But is it?
What if there is a third way and that third way is for the plenary to remand the report to the Justice Committee for further review and consideration? It has its pros and cons.
This will give ample time for the President to save face while in the company of other heads of state in the United Nations. Dismissing the impeachment process now may be a far worse cure than having the report remanded. Already, the Bukluran ng Katotohanan or the Coalition for Truth, by all accounts, was a successful gathering of different forces representing contrasting political persuasions. It is the new political front from which to launch the anti-GMA offensive.
Their message is convincingly simple: GMA is afraid of the truth, GMA’s minions in Congress suppressed the search for truth, GMA does not want the truth to be out, and therefore, there is but one truth left they will accept and that is: GMA must go. Unite, demand and defend the truth.
With a logic so forceful and so elementary, GMA and the Speaker’s minions in Congress run the risk of infuriating the general public who up till last Friday has shown a level of complacency far pathetic than the response to the call for GMA’s resignation. If indeed, the Palace is monitoring all the developments in the impeachment process, it would do well for the Speaker to hold on to the final vote and let the President parade her prowess before the United Nations.
At the very least, the President can plausibly spin an argument that her country has a vibrant democratic system and she cannot dictate to a co-equal branch of government what to do. It would appear less embarrassing for the President to have the impeachment proceedings continue inside the House rather than for her to see, before Fox News or CNN and be confronted by them, the violent dispersals of endless rallies outside Congress or the seeming growing chaos in the metropolis.
On the part of the opposition, the lull will give them time to recruit more votes to reach 79 while the Justice Committee reviews its own findings. In addition, they will be given the chance, which they have been loudly protesting, to present prima facie proofs evidencing the President's culpability.
Appearing before the ANC program "Talkback" last night, I opened the possibility of a third way to Cong. Noynoy Aquino and to former Congressman, Atty. Eduardo Nachura, both members of the Liberal Party but the former, being the son of Cory Aquino, is with the pro-impeachment forces and the latter, one of the brighter constitutionalists in the House, is a legal resource person to the presidential defense team.
While both men were open to the possibility of a third way, Congressman Aquino appeared to be less than enthusiastic. According to him, the Justice Committee will merely review the original Lozano complaint which leaves much to be desired. As a pragmatist cognizant of the political powers and forces within the House, he may have a point. But the idea behind the referral back to the Justice Committee is the implication that the manner, the proceeding, and the conclusion it reached was not only not credible but the whole process had no appearance of credibility at all. Hence, it is a possibility, albeit remote, that the Justice Committee will not only reexamine the original Lozano complaint but the two other complaints may be equally revisited and with more reason.
But who am I to judge the misgivings of Congressman Aquino? I teach in a perfect world where cases are discussed in a hypothetical bubble. I suppose in the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king. However, I wonder if the land of the blind is my classroom or the House of Representatives. My first year Constitutional Law students may be ignorant of judicial precedents and doctrines but most certainly, I and my students are not blind to the truth. Equally I cannot draw the same conclusion for the august members of the House, the Justice Committee or the Speaker of the House.