(This article has been published on Yahoo! Voices.)
Constitution — the fundamental law of the land. No laws shall be passed beyond the conformity to the Constitution provisions.
Sitting as the impeachment court, the Senate’s 20-3 votes in favor of guilty dethroned Chief Justice Corona from the Philippines highest court — the Supreme Court — the court of last resort.
For many, the verdict was stunning! In a sense that this was the first time ever in the Philippine history that majority members of the Senate defied the top judge’s interpretation of the law. However, in my view, the verdict was disturbing! The guilty votes had either undermined the stringent process or procedure of the rule of law or expanded the interpretation of the Constitution to a mere rule of reason or art of logic.
Moreover, the Senate’s adjudication, in my personal view, was not served up to the extent where the lady justice is blindfolded; rather was it served up to the extent where the lady is escorted!
The parameter of the conviction mostly concentrated on the declaration of Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN). The circumventing issues mostly underpinned on the provision of the Constitution against the legislated law.
The legislated law on foreign currency covers any person, natural or juridical. I wondered why some senators viewed that the legislated law should only be applied for banking institutions, and government personnel should be outside of the parameter of this law. Moreover, I condemned to the highest substance the thinking of some senators that went, “Public persons shall have nothing to hide”. This is a palpable violation to person’s right to privacy. Although there has been no law on privacy, but the Constitution is assertive in protecting the person’s right to privacy.
Back to the issue that circumvented on the provision in the Constitution against the legislated law, the provision in the Constitution commands government officers or personnel to declare under oath their SALN, in the manner provided by law. Completeness and accuracy of SALN declaration,although substantial in performing the provision, omission of this performance is, in fact, reconcilable by correction.
In accounting parlance, dollar accounts are assets. Moreover, in an accounting description of asset, not all assets are fixed assets that can be measured, appraised, or taken by the same appropriation. In law, the provision is quiet clear of the general term, assets. However, in legal aspect of dealing assets, the Foreign Currency Deposit law stamped the difference. Hence, Chief Justice Corona was at par correct in reconciling the loophole in the provision of the Constitution against his right to privacy as a person under the shade of the legislated law. Then, who is at fault?
True and correct that the Senate has the sole power to decide impeachment cases. If the Senate is convinced that impeachment process is quasi-judicial and quasi-political and the Rules of Court on admissibility of evidence is suppletory, I think, we all have agreed that the Senate was being liberal on this aspect. If the Constitution provides the sole authority of judicial review to the judiciary, then the impeachment process, as quasi-judicial, can be covered by such review.
If men in good standing of the law assert in this light, “If the law does not say so, then why shall we do so?” However, what I have observed during the impeachment trial until it rested and spoke the guilty verdict, interpretation of the law depends on who are you with?, what are you thinking about at this moment?, and how are you going after all?. Then, not only because there has been no appeal ever successful to question the impeachment court throughout the history of impeachment, it does not mean that impeachment decision is non-appealable. The keyword here is: sufficient grounds. If sufficient grounds of mistrial exist, then the impeachment court is not immune of judicial review. Now, when there has been no law that says so, about the immunity of the impeachment court, then the Senate should stop pretending as if untouchable!
Filed under: Laws and Jurisprudence, Politics and Government | Tagged: Chief Justice Corona, Constitution, guilty verdict, Impeachment, Net worth, Philippines, Renato Corona, SALN, Senate, Supreme Court | 4 Comments »