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INTELLECTUAL EYE
 
Larry S. Cayabyab
e-mail: lelac@digitelone.com
 
 
Impeachment phobia

The Constitution provides that the President of the Republic, the Vice-President, Members of Congress, and Supreme Court Justices can be removed from office through impeachment. The first ever recorded impeachment trial in this millenial era was the celebrated case of then President Estrada.
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The trial, although did not come to finality because of the walk-out of the prosecution lawyers led by then Congressman Joker Arroyo, has caused the ouster of Erap. Ironically, Chief Justice Hilario Davide, the presiding officer of the Erap impeachment trial, has come through with the same ordeal. Alleged mismanagement in the spending of the Judicial Development Fund (JDF) by the Chief Justice himself was among the main issues in the said controversy.

Alarmed that a Constitutional crisis would ensue once the impeachment move against Davide materializes, the civil society and other cause-oriented groups have come to the rescue. Cory Aquino, running priest Robert Reyes and advocates of the anti-impeachment movement and friends of Davide cried and shouted foul. They said that the Chief Justice's integrity as a public servant is beyond reproach. This writer agrees with the statement that from among the public servants who might have committed hanky-panky business, CJ Davide is the lesser evil (quoted from my editor). Anyway, who would argue that nobody is a sinner?

However, a question cropped up from the "masa" that if Davide did not commit a breach of his oath of the Constitution, then why is there a need to block the impeachment against him? May dapat bang pagtakpan? this is just a layman's query. Thanks to the unconstitutionality of the second initiated impeachment, Davide was saved from impending trial. Nonetheless, if the group who blocked the articles of impeachment have instead softened their stand, and let the democratic process take due course, the Filipino people would have been enlightened on whether or not Davide committed wrong against the people, or be exonerated because his accusers are the ones who have maligned a good man due to dirty politicking.

Now that the impeachment move against Davide was finally put to rest by the Justices themselves (14-0), the phobia to impeach anybody from the three co-equal branches of the government will linger on. If the most powerful man in the country has been tried in an impeachment court, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court can be impeached if the move has pushed through, the next generation of leaders who will be appointed or be elected in the same positions will now have second thoughts before they would ever try or be tempted to trample the integrity of the offices they would be holding.