Posted by: nupl | November 27, 2007

LAWYERS CONDEMN SHAM IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS: Compare proceedings with the first Aquino-Galman Case

November 27, 2007

Press Release

“The Justices and judges must ever realize that they have no constituency, serve no majority nor minority but serve only the public interest as they see it in accordance with their oath of office, guided only [by] the Constitution and their own conscience and honor.” Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee paraphrasing US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren [1986]

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers condemns in the strongest terms the latest travesty of justice in the House of Representatives with the approval of the Report of the Justice Committee essentially dismissing all impeachment complaints filed against Pres. Gloria Arroyo.

As predicted, the House dismissed the sham Pulido complaint for insufficiency in substance. The mock proceedings in the Justice Committee was made more apparent by the fact that the Committee voted on the Pulido complaint without even discussing its very substance [See Committee Records], an open admission that the entire proceedings was a zarzuela right from the start. Meanwhile, the genuine impeachment complaints filed by BAYAN and Atty. Adel Tamano were ‘dismissed’ by Rep. Matt Defensor and the Deputy Secretary General of the House, an ultra vires act [1] by both since they have no authority to act on the matter in their personal capacity.

It is clear that Pres. Arroyo is orchestrating the entire impeachment proceedings including the pre-determined dismissal of the Pulido complaint hoping that this will immunize her from a genuine impeachment complaint. The predicted outcome by the House last night is reminiscent of the first trial of those charged with the killing of Sen. Benigno Aquino, which the Supreme Court declared as sham for being orchestrated by Malacañang. In the case of Galman vs. Sandiganbayan [G.R. No. 72760, September 12, 1986] the Supreme Court voided the first trial’s decision acquitting Gen. Fabian Ver et al. and ordered another trial which eventually led to the conviction of the accused, to wit:

The record shows suffocatingly that from beginning to end, the then President used, or more precisely, misused the overwhelming resources of the government and his authoritarian powers to corrupt and make a mockery of the judicial process in the Aquino-Galman murder cases. X X X

Indeed, the secret Malacañang conference at which the authoritarian President called together the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan Fernandez and the entire prosecution panel headed by Deputy Tanodbayan Herrera and told them how to handle and rig (moro-moro) the trial and the close monitoring of the entire proceedings to assure the predetermined ignominious final outcome are without parallel and precedent in our annals and jurisprudence.

The genuine impeachment complaints filed against Pres. Arroyo were attempts by the people to give substance to the impeachment proceedings, but the Justice Committee, ratified by the House, made a mockery of the impeachment process by refusing to tackle these genuine impeachment complaints. Considering that the impeachment complaints filed by Bayan and Atty. Tamano contained charges on the Malacañang cash gifts scandal, members of the Justice Committee and the House, who received said cash gifts are disqualified from deciding on whether these complaints should be dismissed through the self serving procedure of ‘returning’ them to the complainants. Taking off from the Supreme Court decision in Galman, the whole impeachment proceeding was rendered illusory on the very day members of Congress went to Malacañang and received ‘cash gifts’:

The very acts of being summoned to Malacañang and their ready acquiescence thereto the circumstances then obtaining, are in themselves pressure dramatized and exemplified. . . . Verily, it can be said that any avowal of independent action or resistance to presidential pressure became illusory from the very moment they stepped inside Malacañang Palace on January 10, 1985.

Considering that certain House members who decided and voted on these impeachment complaints were involved in the Malacañang payola, the decision of the Justice Committee and the House approval of the said decision is void and of no legal effect. A decision by those who lacked the integrity and independence to render said decision is void and a “lawless thing which can be slain x x x at sight” as emphatically declared by the Supreme Court in the same case of Galman:

The Supreme Court cannot permit such a sham trial and verdict and travesty of justice to stand unrectified. x x x [The judiciary] would have no reason to exist if they were allowed to be used as mere tools of injustice, deception and duplicity to subvert and suppress the truth, instead of repositories of judicial power x x x without fear or favor and removed from the pressures of politics and prejudice. The Court is constrained to declare the sham trial a mock trial – the non-trial of the century — and that the predetermined judgment of acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.

x x x

Where the denial of the fundamental right of due process is apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of jurisdiction (Aducayen vs. Flores, 51 SCRA 78; Shell Co. vs. Enage, 49 SCRA 416). Any judgment or decision rendered notwithstanding such violation may be regarded as a ‘lawless thing, which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever it exhibits its head’.

x x x

A dictated, coerced and scripted verdict of acquittal such as that in the case at bar is a void judgment. In legal contemplation, it is no judgment at all. It neither binds nor bars anyone. Such judgment is “a lawless thing which can be treated as an outlaw.” It is a terrible and unspeakable affront to the society and the people.

Conclusion and Decision, Galman vs. Sandiganbayan

NUPL condemns this ‘terrible and unspeakable affront to society and the people’. Since the House decision ‘neither binds nor bars anyone’, Pres. Arroyo is not yet free from a genuine impeachment complaint. The NUPL vows to use its legal skills and resources for the full resolution of the impeachment charges against Pres. Gloria Arroyo. #

Reference Person: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, Secretary-General (09178350459)

 

 


[1] Art. XI, Section 3 of the Constitution states that “A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter”. The provision that “it shall be included in the order of business” is mandatory, and no individual can “return” an impeachment complaint. Only Congress can decide whether or not to dismiss an impeachment complaint.

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