Judiciousness and fairness are alien attributes of the House Committee on Justice that junked the impeachment complaints against seven Supreme Court justices, including newly-promoted Chief Justice Teresita de Castro, for “insufficiency in substance”.
Substance was in fact overriding but partisanship was more ascendant.
The majority and the leadership-handpicked minority members of the Committee colluded to dismiss the complaints.
The writing on the wall was obvious when Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attended the initial proceedings, although she left after listening to Rep. Jesulito Manalo fired the first salvo against the complaints.
Section 4 of Rule III of the House Rules on Impeachment provides “The requirement of substance is met when there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of jurisdiction of the committee.”
Complainants argued, through Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, that there are sufficient allegations of ultimate facts constituting the impeachable offenses of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
Those who spoke against the insufficiency of the complaints’ substance meandered outside the allegations of the complaints as they pontificated that:
- The Supreme Court is supreme even in its errors.
- The High Court is the sole and final arbiter of justiciable issues, and its decisions, rightly or wrongly, deserve respect.
- Giving due course to the complaints will result in the absence of a quorum in the Supreme Court.
- Since the Supreme Court has general jurisdiction over quo warranto petitions, it has jurisdiction to remove impeachable officers through quo warranto.
Lagman said that all of these arguments placed the cart before the horse because if ever they are relevant, they should be invoked only when the committee determines probable cause, which is the next level of the proceedings.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN