Concom proposal to update impeach process offers check and balance

MANILAThe proposed provision of the Consultative Committee (Concom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution which makes the impeachment process a joint jurisdiction of Congress and the Judiciary offers a better balance of power.

This was the response made on Monday by Concom Senior Technical Assistant and spokesman Ding Generoso to Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin's remark that the Concom's proposed provision violates the separation of powers between elective officers of the legislative branch that exercises impeachment powers over the appointive members of the judiciary and splits the process of impeachment.

Villarin also compared the Concom proposal to what the present Supreme Court has done to ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who was removed by her peers at the instigation of the President's Solicitor General.

It is like justifying to the public the unconstitutional deed of the eight justices by constitutional fiat via charter change, Villarin said.

Generoso, however, said that in performing its mandate, the ConCom is not concerned with any person�only with making the system better.

Quo warranto is also different matter from impeachment, which is the only subject of ConCom's proposal, he said

Generoso explained that Villarin has misread the Concom proposal by saying that it is a purely judicial process�which is absolutely not the case.

Impeachment is going to be a joint jurisdiction of Congress�to initiate and prosecute�and the Constitutional Court to hold the trial. So it is neither purely judicial nor purely political. It is both political and judicial, Generoso said in a statement.

ConCom's proposal makes for a better check and balance system, he added.

He emphasized that although there are countries where impeachment is purely political and those where impeachment is under the jurisdiction solely of the judiciary, the Concom's proposal is a joint jurisdiction and process.

The Congress initiates impeachment and serves as prosecutor. The trial is done before a judicial body�the proposed Constitutional Court, Generoso said.

By sharing the power, Congress and the Judiciary check each other on matters of impeachment. There's a better balance of power, he reiterated.

Concom chairman and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno earlier said that the Concom wanted the impeachment process to be a joint jurisdiction of Congress and the Judiciary which means that while indictment will be left to Congress (both the Senate and House of Representatives), the trial will be a strictly judicial proceeding when it goes to the proposed Federal Constitutional Court.

The Federal Constitutional Court is one of the three high courts in the Concom's proposed changes to the Judicial Branch to expand the generalized high court in the current Constitution to three specialized courts to address specific concerns or cases.

The other two high courts in the expert panel's proposed provisions are the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Administrative Court.

The process of impeachment should be both political and judicial in nature. The political part of the process involving the initiation of the impeachment process, the investigation and the preparation of the indictment would be left to the political branch of our government, more specifically to Congress but here you will note that this process is a given both to the House and to the Senate, Puno said in a press briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

If the joint body decides that there is enough ground to impeach, [it] prepares the indictment then that indictment is filed immediately and directly with the Constitutional Court. That decision is not to be subjected to separate voting by each house, he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency