Displaying items by tag: impeachment

Impeachment bids and rights issues: Cases vs Duterte in his first year

By: Tetch Torres-Tupas - Reporter / @T2TupasINQINQUIRER.net 

Photos: Editor’s Note: Starting June 25, the Inquirer will run on its print, online, and social media platforms a series of stories, reports and commentaries on the socioeconomic impact – positive and negative – that President Duterte has made in his first year in office. The articles will focus on how the former Davao City mayor has coped with the challenges of the presidency in five major areas that Filipinos consider most important in their lives: peace and order, traffic, economy, governance and foreign policy. This evaluation of the administration’s achievements and shortcomings will take into account what Mr. Duterte had promised to do during last year’s presidential campaign, his June 30 inaugural speech and his July 25 State of the Nation Address.

Photo:President Rodrigo Duterte arrives from his visit to Russia at NAIA Terminal 2. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

With only one year in office, President Rodrigo Duterte has been accused of massive human rights violations with his war on drugs as well as anomalies committed while he was still mayor of Davao City.

Despite enjoying immunity from suit, he remains at the receiving end of an impeachment case, a plunder and graft complaint and a case before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

His critics remained bent on making him face the law for his alleged crimes that started when he was mayor of Davao City.

Early last year, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has filed a complaint for plunder and violation of the Anti-Graft Law against the President for allegedly hiring ghost employees at the Davao City Hall when he was mayor.

So far, records from the Ombudsman showed that this is the only complaint against the President undergoing investigation.

The last case filed against him in 2012 underwent fact-finding investigation but was declared closed and terminated in 2014, two years before he become President.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, during last year’s alumni homecoming at the University of the Philippines College of Law, explained that the investigation continued because the complaint was filed before Duterte became President.

“Under the law, even if a person has immunity or even if he is impeachable, you still continue the investigation for purposes of determining whether there is misconduct,” Morales explained. She, however, clarified that she has inhibited herself from the case because of her relation to Duterte. She is the sister of Atty. Lucas Carpio Jr., the husband of retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio whose son is the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

This is not the first time that the Office of the Ombudsman under Morales investigated an official who enjoys immunity from suit.

Her office also conducted an investigation on the complaint filed against then Vice President Jejomar Binay. Cases for graft and malversation were filed with the Sandiganbayan after he lost the presidential race in 2016.

Then, Atty. Jude Sabio, lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) a complaint against Duterte and 11 other government officials for the murders committed by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) to the extra-judicial killings of suspected drug users and pushers.


Also included in the complaint are Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, Police Superintendent Edilberto Leonardo, Senior Police Officer 4 Sanson “Sonny” Buenaventura, Police Superintendent Royina Garma, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Senator Richard Gordon and now Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

Sabio requested that the ICC analyze the mass killings in the country, summon Duterte and his senior officials and eventually issue a warrant for their arrest.

Aguirre said the filing of the complaint was amusing.

“The camp of Matobato and Sabio apparently threw a net in the sea with this case and want to see how many fishes they can catch before the ICC. Sorry to disappoint them this early, they will catch none. Their case is substantially and procedurally infirm and bereft of merit,” Aguirre said in a statement.

The Justice Chief believed that there are people behind Matobato and Sabio.

“These destabilizers do not want the Filipino people to have a drug-free future. They hate it when the greater majority of our countrymen benefit from the many gains of the Duterte administration,” Aguirre said.

Calida, on the other hand, said Sabio should be disbarred for his actions. He also maintained that the ICC has no jurisdiction on the matter.

To date, the ICC has not acted on Sabio’s complaint.

A search on the ICC’s website https://www.icc-cpi.int to check on status of cases and complaints filed yielded zero result on Duterte. Its calendar also does not indicate any action on the complaint against Duterte and his senior officials.

If there is one break that the President can enjoy for now, it is the bid to impeach him from office.

Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte on the issue of extra-judicial killings and allegedly amassing more than P2-billion ill-gotten wealth.

Congress, composed mostly of allies of the President has dismissed the complaint.

Under Article XI Section 3 paragraph (5) of the 1987 Constitution, “no impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”

Based on Congress’ record, the impeachment complaint against Duterte was initiated on May 9, 2017 which means no impeachment complaint can be filed until May 8, 2018. JE



The politics of impeaching a president

We hear the word impeachment mentioned more frequently in both the United States and the Philippines these days although it is very remote at this time that the sitting presidents of both countries will be impeached. 

In March, an opposition lawmaker filed an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte calling for the president’s removal from office citing high crimes, betrayal of public trust, and abuse of power as the basis for his impeachment complaint. 

The justice committee of the Lower House recently dismissed the impeachment charges against President Duterte for “insufficiency in substance” related to the president’s alleged role in the state-sponsored killings and the Davao Death Squad, as well as his administration’s alleged inaction to uphold the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, Panatag Shoal, and Benham Rise. 

For now, President Duterte will not be the subject of an impeachment trial unlike former president Joseph Estrada who was charged with plunder and perjury during an impeachment trial in the Philippine Senate in December 2000.  However, President Estrada was ousted from office in January of 2001 during a popular uprising in Metro Manila after his aborted impeachment trial.

Will President Duterte suffer the same fate?  

I doubt it.  Not at this time.  President Duterte enjoys strong support from lawmakers of both houses and if the social survey results are correct, it appears that he still holds a high trust rating among the people. 

But the rising death toll as a result of the extrajudicial killings going on in the Philippines will surely hurt his popularity later on.  Like the failed social experiments and painful experiences in Thailand and Colombia, the Filipino people will soon realize that mass killings simply do not work and that there are more creative and productive solutions in dealing with the drug menace without killing the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.   

History has taught us that the rule of law is vital to progress and a country will not move forward without it because those in power will be the first ones who will engage in corruption and acts that are detrimental to the best interests of the nation if the rule of law is absent and missing.

The rule of law is the world’s best hope for building peaceful and prosperous societies according to former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.  Even Philippine CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno spoke about the dangers of lawlessness and impunity which she said represents a breakdown in governance. 

I hope that President Duterte will find it alarming that 45 of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council expressed deep concerns about the human rights situation in the Philippines.  I hope also that he will listen to the Council’s call for his government to investigate the extrajudicial killings that have been going on since he took office and since his war on drugs started.  

  In President Donald Trump’s case, unlike President Duterte, his trust rating has been very low since he took office.  But like President Duterte, President Trump enjoys strong support from his Republican party mates and allies in both the House of Representatives and the Senate (unlike President Richard Nixon who resigned before the House could vote on the impeachment resolutions against him when his political support was completely eroding and collapsing and the Democrats enjoyed the majority vote on his impeachment).    

Many legal and constitutional experts assert though that the conduct of the U.S. president poses a danger to the nation’s democratic system of government. 

It is alleged that the firing of FBI Director James Comey obstructs the investigation on the claimed Russian connection and influence in the results of the 2016 presidential election--- and the taped conversation with former-director Comey they allege may be classified as a form of intimidation and obstruction of justice. 

Will a Trump impeachment complaint prosper?  Like in President Duterte’s case, impeaching President Trump is tough and remote for now--- but there is a stronger possibility after the 2018 mid-year election if the dominant party in Congress changes. 

Until next week.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California.  His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases.  Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.  You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com



The changing of the president  

The word “impeachment” has been used more often these days in the Philippines and in the United States as more and more critics of both President Donald Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte have taken to social media to denounce the actions and policies of the two leaders.
This talk about impeachment is not a new thing. Actually many people are very familiar with this constitutional procedure for removing a sitting president from office.
The usual route for changing an administration is through presidential elections, but for terms of four years in the U.S. and six years in the Philippines, many find these too long for presidents who in their first months have already done major missteps in their jobs as chief executives.
The Philippines and the United States have many things in common with regards to their political systems particularly their form of government with three branches.
In the United States Constitution it is stated that "The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," while in the 1987 Philippine constitution the grounds for removal from office on impeachment are for “conviction of, . . . culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”
Impeachment though does not imply “forceful removal.” Under the constitution of both the U.S. and the Philippines, impeachment takes place in the House of Representatives if a majority approves the submitted articles of impeachment. The impeachment proceeding then goes to the Senate where a two-thirds majority vote is required to convict the president which would then lead to his or her removal.
In the Philippines, no impeachment proceedings can be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.
President Rodrigo Duterte has not completed the first year of his six-year term of office and an impeachment complaint was already filed against him in the House of Representatives citing murder, crimes against humanity in connection with the extrajudicial deaths and his alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad, and corruption, as grounds.
This impeachment complaint might not prosper since President Duterte has the support of the majority in the House of Representatives. But with the call from the international community to revoke Philippine trade privileges in a bid to hold President Duterte accountable for his alleged support of the killings in his war on drugs, and if the nation’s economy gets into a downward state, Duterte’s popularity can wane fast and realignment of political forces will surely take place.
President Duterte may also be violating the constitution in his handling of the territorial issues against China since he is mandated to defend the national territory.
Outside of elections, only two Philippine presidents were “booted out” of power. First, there was President Ferdinand Marcos who fled the Philippines during the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising and the second, President Joseph Estrada, left Malacanang Palace after another people’s uprising in 2001. In Estrada’s case, he was deposed in a “constitutional-coup” and replaced by his vice president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. President Estrada allegedly “resigned” or was “incapacitated” and this led to Macapagal-Arroyo being sworn as president.
In the U.S., articles of impeachment were passed against then President Richard Nixon by a congressional committee but Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives could vote on his impeachment.
President Bill Clinton was impeached by the lower house and tried in the senate but was acquitted and remained in office.
There are many issues surrounding the Trump presidency that are being collected and investigated that may potentially be impeachable offenses. However at this time, with Trump’s political party having control of both houses in congress, the possibility of his impeachment is still remote.
Remember Nixon and Clinton faced impeachment when their respective parties were not the majority in congress. For Trump to be impeached, members of his own party would have to turn against him.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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