‘Super hats’ of senators
I listened intently to the reading of the resolution of the impeachment court denying the motion of the prosecution to subpoena some Supreme Court justices. Just like Senator-judges Koko Pimentel, TG Guingona, Kiko Pangilinan and Tito Sotto, I think that the denial of the motion was the right decision. But I do not agree with the justification given by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding officer of the impeachment court. He said the motion was denied because under the doctrine of separation of powers, the three branches of government (i.e., Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) are co-equal; none is higher or lower than the other in the manner of a hierarchical system. Each is supreme within its sphere.
With all due respect, my humble advocacy is that the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court is a “Super Body,” higher than the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
Everybody agrees that the impeachment trial is sui generis (the only one of its kind). It is a quasi-judicial and quasi-political function. That is the reason why senators are called senator-judges. In an impeachment trial, the senators wear two hats—as judicial and legislative officials—and take another oath before assuming their role in the trial.
The Constitution provides that the “Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.” This means just that—no other branch can interfere, let alone review, the decision of the impeachment court. Its decision is final and executory and appealable to no one.
The senator-judges are only answerable to their conscience, the Almighty God (as implied in the Preamble of the Constitution) and the sovereign Filipino people from whom all government authority emanates.
—PIO P. FRAGO,