Nothing but an attempt to undermine the judiciary
The House of Representatives committee on justice created very dangerous precedents in ruling upon two important issues raised in impeachment proceedings on Nov. 22 against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The first issue is the committee’s denial of the right of nonmembers of the committee to participate in the impeachment proceedings, rationalizing hidden means and ends by arguing mainly that allowing nonmembers would unduly impede the facilitation and purpose of the committee system and thus defeat the speedy disposition of the case.
This position goes against the basic principles of bourgeois democracy. It is a suppression of the inherent right of each House member to represent their constituents in very important legislative matters. Rather than an impediment to the committee system, open participation at the level of the committee deliberations actually facilitates and ensures optimum performance by the entire legislative branch of their constitutional tasks. It allows the committee to appreciate all points of information and various perspectives.
The second issue is the committee’s decision to refuse the Chief Justice’s counsels to represent her in the proceedings, and to conduct cross-examination of witnesses on her behalf.
This action is a complete disregard of a person’s basic right to counsel. The right to counsel is a fundamental right accorded to every person not only at the time of trial, but during the investigation of the case at the first instance.
These brazen acts only expose not only the supermajority’s intent to railroad the process, but also to cover up what appears to be the baselessness of the impeachment complaint itself. Founded on arguably flimsy and trivial grounds and hearsay evidence, the Sereno impeachment complaint, stripped of its pretensions, is at the end of the day, essentially nothing but an attempt by the Duterte administration to undermine the independence of the judiciary.
It also presents an ominous threat to the citizens that if this Congress could disregard and stifle the basic rights of even high ranking public officials whose independence is beneficial to all, whether elected or appointed, the rest of us is fair game in this absurd game of thrones.
EPHRAIM B. CORTEZ, secretary general,
MARIA CRISTINA P. YAMBOT, spokesperson, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.