Impeaching

larawan ng isang martilyong ginagamit sa pandinig

Not just the fate of the person but of the country’s institution/ smh.com.au

Before the day ends, the Philippine Senate – meeting as an impeachment court- will decide the fate of the country’s Chief Justice. Whether the highest magistrate will be pronounced guilty or not, will depend upon the judgment of the 23 Senators,  assuming that they weighed the evidences and the arguments presented, in a circumspect manner. The country’s fate hangs in the balance, not just the chief magistrate’s.

A lot of people in the Philippines believe that the whole exercise is motivated by politics. They say that the current President has an ax to grind against the highest official of the Supreme Court and his administration hatched and organized the whole proceeding to pin down a loyal appointee of the previous dispensation. This could be true in some ways. But I would like to believe that the President considered everything before embarking on what others term as mere “personal vendetta.”

He knows what’s on the line here. He is aware that the country cannot afford more divisiveness at this point. He is conscious that impeachment, as a democratic process, has both strengthening and debilitating effects to a fledgling nation and a hopeful people.  If the exercise succeeds in pointing out the bad deeds and in weeding out the bad guys, then points go to the strengthening part. If it doesn’t, then, we go the other way. The exercise will only have shown more ineptness, more grandstanding  and more of the usual, merry ways of people in high offices. I would like to believe that the President and his men considered those.

Now at the climax of the affair, the Senate members vote this afternoon. Million pairs of eyes and ears will be watching and listening. In the first place, the whole thing was followed by the people for five months, with much ado as a cockfight and a telenovela combined. Impeaching the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court! Why, yes, only in the Philippines… We had two impeachment proceedings before, one involved a former president of the country,  no less. The other one was aborted – it involved the head of the Ombudsman.  She resigned before the Senate started trial.  To think that an impeachment is usually protracted, costly  and laborious. Am thinking, this last one should be the last, in a long time…

When we were in high school, we studied the term magistrate. The lesson said that a magistrate is not only one who is wise, but who is also a person of unquestionable integrity. Why? It is so because that is deemed the only way he could function in his full time duty of arbitration and adjudication of conflicts. The term has its roots in China, where civil service is prized highly and  government officials who earned their place in the bureaucracy are regarded higher over those who got there by election or political appointment. Am telling you this precisely because to a large extent, an impeachment is about that.

As a political set-up, democracy provides for mechanism to remove erring, non-performing and unfit elected officials. There is the recall procedure for officials elected at the local level (and for certain officials at national level). On the other hand, for the top national, sensitive positions, there is the impeachment procedure. To impeach means to cast doubt on the fitness of the occupant of the position – the elective office. It must be noted that what is being protected by the mechanism, as contemplated in the country’s Constitution, is not the person but the office. The premise being, the office must be held by someone whose integrity is unimpeachable. In other words, his character and fitness must be unassailable.

Thus, by tradition, not only in the Philippines but also in other countries that profess to be democratic, the mere filing of an impeachment case in itself, constitutes questions to the fitness. Ideally, it shouldn’t come to the point that the esteemed high official will be hailed to court, in an impeachment court at that. Why? Because it  seems that no one wins that game. The legality could be traversed, it could even be pointed out that the allegations are mere fabrications  or cover-ups for bigger shortcomings.  More often,  it is not a matter of mastering the legalese or presenting the sharpest legal points, no. It is about being unassailable. With the public at large watching and judging as well, it’s tough water. Anybody, I suppose, who is subjected to a thorough examination, through the looking glass, will have a hard time coming out squeaky clean.

 

larawan ng hustisyang nagtataguyod ng paghihilom

After the procedure, people should feel that some measure of justice have been delivered/ co.dodge.wi.us

 

And so it goes. As I am typing this, nine (9) senators voting as impeachment judges have already cast their votes. I am watching the last leg of the trial via live webcast and the reception is not going smoothly. It is a bit like Philippine style democracy – too many rough roads and yet, no end seems to be in sight. It is exciting, as always. 😉

 

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12 comments on “Impeaching

  1. sorrygnat says:

    the plot thickens ….

    • hello, ms. sorrygnat… oh, the supreme court chief justice was convicted – 20 guilty versus 3 not guilty. not one senator-judge abstained. guilty for not declaring cash in his SALN, worth P80M+ and $2.4M in dollar-deposits. it’s a question of acquiring properties 50 times his salary and benefits as an official. 🙂

  2. I have no problem with the impeachment process itself, but don’t you think the whole thing is excruciatingly slow, heavily mediatized, and above all, almost useless? I mean, if democracy really works in this languid pace, is it possible to create a really working government, purged of these corrupt elements, in the near future?

    • Hello, John… Ah, the whole process is rather slow, full of press conferences and press releases but I wouldn’t say it’s useless. Given the nature of our political culture and processes, I would say, the impeachment court has done its job, better than I expected and photofinished, haha. The 15th Congress of the Phils. at least got three (3) days to wrap up its business and enact some laws before its second session is terminated. ^^

      Wait, your question has three parts – the languid pace of democracy, the working or non-working of government and corrupt elements/corruption, right? Well, for one, it isn’t easy to purge the set-up of corrupt elements as we know that those who engage in corruption work harder than those who oppose it. They are better situated as well, sadly…

      As for the pace of democracy, methinks it is slow or fast depending on the power and enthusiasm of those who fuel and give life to it – the so-called stakeholders. Meanwhile, a working government is always subject to debate, I guess. The efficacy, substance and sensitiveness of governance is a rather broad topic, Third World setting or not, post-colonial democracy or not.

      If the question is, did the impeachment accomplish anything by way of cleaning up the government, I would say yes. It set a precedent, for one – that not all corruption go unnoticed. For another, it showed to the people and to the world that we can go through the whole exercise and complete it (unlike in the former President’s case). I think that’s important.

      If the question is, did the impeachment do much to alleviate the condition of the millions in the country who are poor and desperate, I would say very little. Most people still felt and feel left out of the political processes, am afraid. But that’s for some other discussion, I guess… I hope am able to answer some of your queries… Thanks for posing them and warm regards. 🙂

  3. singkamas says:

    A “cockfight and telenovela combined”, indeed!

  4. renxkyoko says:

    I have no idea what’s going on there * scratches head * but I can tell it’s as nasty as the stuff going on here in the US. Too much racism here … that I thought was already dead… I guess not. The republican Party, of course. And believe it or not, there are so many Filipinos that are republicans. Stupid. Filipino republicans think Democratic party is a party of the poor…. they don’t want to be lumped with Democrats …. crazy…… they think now that they are driving a BMW makes them above everybody else , but we all know they were as poor as a rat in the Philippines/ *( that’s what my parents said ) I’m sorry I’m angry at these Filipinos. I want to blog about this but I know a lot of my Filipino readers will be offended.

    • Oh, it’s just that the Executive and the Judiciary came to a head, ahaha. But no constitutional crisis, yet. Just the impeachment, haha. We’ll see if something else develops in the coming days. I hope not, hihi. 😉

      Ah, I’ve heard of that. That most immigrants (Filipinos or not) who got rich in the US favor Republican party and policies. That they think that the so-called democratic ideals are crap, haha. That the Republican party has a huge ethnic following, especially among those people who are (relatively) upwardly mobile.

      I’ve also heard that things and exchanges are getting nasty over there, as the months and days toward the election day near. It’s in November, right? Am thinking, those people who favor Republican policies and pronouncements are those who think that there is no need to distribute social benefits anymore as they are (in their present status) better situated already. They stand to gain from conservative policies. Ayon yata, hope i got some of them right, ahuh… ^^

      Hello, Renx! Cheers sa ‘yo. 😉

  5. it’s an obscenity that my country hasn’t put war criminals dick cheney and george bush on trial. continue…

  6. hello, barking in the dark,

    yessir, i suppose the so-called democratic countries still have a long way to go when it comes to exacting accountability from its elected officials, here or there, haha… thanks so much for coming by and best regards… 🙂

  7. […] Impeaching – an attempt to analyze the ongoing impeachment of the Supreme Court Chief Justice […]

  8. […] ko sa English post na Impeaching, halos walang nag-i-stand ng chance sa impeachment court. Once naisalang na ang isang opisyal, […]

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