Friday, July 22, 2005

Impeachment 101

Posted by Vinia Datinguinoo 

THE amended impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to be filed when Congress resumes on Monday. Opposition leaders in the House of Representatives have said that the charges will revolve around "the crimes of cheating, lying and stealing." While the main charge against the president is that she rigged last year's election, the impeachment complaint will include at least ten other offenses that Arroyo allegedly committed since becoming president in 2001.  

What happens once the complaint is filed in the House of Representatives? 

The House secretary general will refer the complaint to the Speaker, who will then include it in the Order of Business for it to be taken up by the committee on justice. The president's allies have the majority in the 56-member justice committee and could vote to stop the motion altogether.

But the opposition could shortcut the process by opting to file the Articles of Impeachment directly to
the House, but they must have a third of the members (79 of 236) endorsing the complaint for it to be
referred directly to the Senate for trial. The 23 senators will act as jurors and the chief justice will
preside over the court. Two-thirds of the Senate is needed to impeach the president.

If the opposition does not have the numbers, however, the justice committee can throw out the complaint
and no further impeachment complaint can be heard by the House for one year.

Read more about the basic impeachment procedure set out by the Constitution. Once an impeachment process begins, Congress must adopt specific rules. In 2000 the 11th Congress set out its rules for the impeachment motion against former president Estrada; they were later archived when the term adjourned. The current Congress has yet to formalize its own impeachment rules.

For those who wish to learn more about impeachment, visit these Senate pages:

Impeachable officers
Grounds for impeachment 
The impeachment of President Joseph Estrada

If the opposition in the House doesn't get the one-third needed to shortcut the process, the public focus in the coming weeks will likely be on the House committee on justice, the first stop of the impeachment complaint. The committee is given 60 days to decide on the merit of the case both in form and substance, afterwhich the House in plenary will have ten days to vote on it.   

Of the committee's 56 regular members, 24 belong to the ruling coalition Lakas, including committee chairman Simeon Datumanong, a veteran politico who is a staunch Arroyo ally and  until recently public works secretary. In addition, there are four KAMPI members in the committee—KAMPI is also allied with the president and some of its members are closely associated with the First Gentleman. Together the Lakas and Kampi representatives make up half of the justice committee, although they are likely to also get the support of other committee members belonging to other parties.

The others in the justice committee include nine members of the Nationalist People's Coalition associated with former presidential candidate and beer magnate Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco Jr. Some of the NPC representatives are allied with the administration and the party may not vote as a bloc on the impeachment issue. In addition, there are three congressmen from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino or LDP; one from the Cavite-based Partido Magdalo (Crispin Remulla, who is a vice chair); and one member of Raul Roco's Aksyon Demokratiko.

There are seven LP members in the committee. The party however is split, with one faction voting on July 8 to call for the president's resignation. There are at least two LP members of the justice committee who are likely to defend the president: Matias Defensor Jr., father of DENR Sec. Mike Defensor, and Rolando Andaya Jr., head of the powerful appropriations committee. Many of the other LP members, however, will likely go for impeachment.

Also likely to vote for the impeachment complaint are three party-list representatives in the justice committee. Teodoro Casiño and Liza Maza are aligned with the radical left and their organizations formally announced on Wednesday that they were cutting ties with the administration bloc in Congress. Loretta Ann Rosales of Akbayan has also called for the president's resignation. There are two other  party-list representatives in the committee. Christian Señeres of Buhay, associated with El Shaddai's Mike Velarde, is likely to vote against impeachment, but APEC's Edgar Valdez can go either way.

The following is a rundown of the regular members of the House committee on justice. (Links to their biodata, posted in the PCIJ's are provided below.)

1. Datumanong, Simeon - Lakas-CMD, 2nd district Maguindanao

2. Baterina, Salacnib (vice-chair) - Lakas, 1st district Ilocos Sur
3. Libanan, Marcelino (vice-chair) - Lakas, Lone district Eastern Samar
4. Real, Isidoro Jr. - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Zamboanga del Sur
5. Cuenco, Antonio - Lakas-PROMDI-BOPK, 2nd district Cebu City
6. Javier, Exequiel -  Lakas-CMD, Lone district Antique
7. Martinez, Clavel - Lakas-CMD, 4th district Cebu
8. Ablan, Roque Jr. - Lakas-CMD-KBL, 1st district Ilocos Norte
9. Gonzalez, Raul Jr. - Lakas-CMD, Lone district Iloilo City
10. Umali, Oyie - Lakas-CMD, 3rd district Nueva Ecija
11. Jaraula, Constantino - Lakas, Lone district Cagayan de Oro City
12. Chatto, Edgar - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Bohol
13. Lopez, Jaime - Lakas-CMD, 2nd district Manila
14. Amin, Hussin - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Sulu
15. Floirendo, Antonio Jr. - Lakas-NUCD, 2nd district Davao del Norte
16. Vicencio, Romualdo - Lakas-CMD, 2nd district Northern Samar
17. Jala, Eladio - Lakas, 3rd district Bohol
18. Puentevella, Monico - Lakas, Lone district Bacolod City
19. Dumarpa, Faysah - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Lanao del Sur
20. Banaag, Leovigildo - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Agusan del Norte
21. Pichay , Prospero Jr. - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Surigao del Sur
22. Abalos, Benjamin Jr. - Lakas-CMD, Lone district Mandaluyong
23. Codilla, Eufrocino Sr. - Lakas-CMD, 4th district Leyte
24. Cabilao, Belma - Lakas-CMD, Lone district Zamboanga Sibugay
25. Sumulong, Victor (vice-chair) - KAMPI, 2nd district Antipolo City
26. Malanyaon , Corazon - KAMPI, 1st district Davao Oriental
27. Baculio, Augusto - KAMPI, 2nd district Misamis Oriental
28. Dumpit, Tomas - KAMPI, 2nd district La Union
29. Bueser, Danton (vice-chair) - LP, 3rd district Laguna
30. Castro, Fred - LP, 2nd district Capiz
31. Uy, Reynaldo S. - LP, 1st district Western Samar
32. Defensor, Matias Jr. - LP, 3rd district Quezon City
33. Andaya, Rolando Jr. - LP, 1st district Camarines Sur
34. Roman, Antonino - LP, 1st district Bataan
35. Wacnang, Laurence - LP, Lone district Kalinga
36. Remulla , Jesus Crispin (vice-chair) - Partido Magdalo, 3rd district Cavite
37. Cagas , Douglas - NPC, 1st district Davao del Sur
38. Cerilles, Antonio - NPC, 2nd district Zamboanga del Sur
39. Macarambon, Benasing Jr. - NPC, 2nd district Lanao del Sur
40. Badelles, Alipio - NPC, 1st district Lanao del Norte
41. Ortega, Manuel - NPC, 1st district La Union
42. Lopez, Ruy Elias - NPC, 3rd district Davao City
43. Durano , Joseph Ace - NPC, 5th district Cebu
44. Santiago, Joseph - NPC, Lone district Catanduanes
45. Fuentebella, Arnulfo (vice-chair) - NPC, 3rd district Camarines Sur
46. Locsin, Teodoro Jr. - PDP-Laban, 1st district Makati City
47. Chipeco, Justin - NP, 2nd district Laguna
48. Lagman , Edcel - Aksyon Demokratiko, 1st district Albay
49. Guingona, Teofisto III - LDP, 2nd district Bukidnon
50. Angara, Juan Edgardo - LDP, Lone district Aurora
51. Agbayani, Rodolfo - LDP-KNP, Lone district Nueva Vizcaya
52. Casiño, Teodoro - Party-list, Bayan Muna
53. Maza, Liza - Party-list, Gabriela
54. Rosales , Loreta Ann - Party-list, Akbayan
55. Señeres, Christian - Party-list, Buhay
56. Valdez, Edgar - Party-list, APEC


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