Explanation of vote on SC’s TRO
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Corona Impeachment Trial, Day 16
13 February 2012
“Mr. President, if I had my choice, I wouldn’t have wanted this to come to a vote. In the trial last week, I had hoped that one of the witnesses would, on his own, after contemplating and thinking of the repercussions of his refusal to provide information on the foreign deposits, would come here voluntarily to disclose the same. But given that the decision of the majority was to bring this to a vote, I chose to cast my vote in favor of defying the TRO.
“Mr. President I base my decision on the following:
“I think it is very clear to all of us that we are very young in terms of our jurisprudence when it comes to impeachment. We really have no firm cases to base our decisions upon. What we have is a Constitutional provision which states that the Senate is the body that is in charge to try all cases of impeachment.
“So we look to the US as we do in many, many similar cases and there is a US Supreme Court ruling, ‘Nixon vs. United States.’ In this case, Mr. President, the US federal judge was convicted of federal crimes and was sentenced to prison. After that, the House of Representatives adopted articles of impeachment and proceeded with the impeachment. He was impeached and the case was presented to the Senate.
“Judge Nixon then questioned the Senate proceedings. It then went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ruled that there are reasons why the judiciary has no role in impeachment. The Supreme Court stated that the framers of the Constitution recognized that there would possibly be two sets of proceedings. One would be a criminal trial, which in this case the judge faced, and an impeachment trial. And therefore the criminal trial already called for judicial interference, and in fact, judicial supremacy. But the impeachment trial called for the impeachment court to be the sole judge.
“The respondent, Judge Nixon, argued that judicial review is necessary in order to place check-and-balances on the Legislature. He feared that if the Senate is given unreviewable authority to interpret the impeachment trial clause, there would be a grave risk that the Senate will usurp judicial power.
“On this matter, the Supreme Court ruled: The framers of the Constitution anticipated this objection and created two Constitutional safeguards to keep the Senate in check. The first safeguard is that the whole of the impeachment power is divided between the two legislative bodies: With the House given the right to accuse, and the Senate given the right to judge. This split of authority avoids the inconvenience of making the same person both the accuser and judge, and guards against the danger of persecution from the prevalency of the fractious spirit in either of those branches. The second safeguard is the two-thirds super-majority vote requirement — and that is the same requirement that we have under our Philippine Constitution.
“Finally Mr. President, I just like to mention that there are lengthy discussions and I have taken the time to read ‘The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis’ by Michael Gerhardt, wherein it states: ‘Judicial review of such an impeachment procedure would undermine the impeachment’s effectiveness as a check on Executive and especially judicial abuse of power. Judicial review of the impeachment process would give judges the last word on the propriety of the procedure for their own removal, and thus the chance to make their own, or their colleagues’ removal virtually impossible by ensuring that Congress could achieve such outcome solely to the most complex and time-consuming ways.
“I have many more interesting points that I can put on record but I think I have covered the most important ones and I thank the Senate President for the time to put on record my sentiments on the matter. Thank you.” #
Photo: Sen Pia Cayetano on Day 16 of the Corona impeachment trial. (Photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB/POOL)