THE opposition’s tactic of gathering by installment the required number of endorsers to the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo is likely to be rejected once the House of Representatives approves the rules of impeachment.
The sponsor of the impeachment rules, Rep. Edcel Lagman (Aksyon Demokratiko, Albay), yesterday said that this tactic, dubbed "creeping" impeachment, is not sanctioned by the Constitution.
Lagman dismissed the minority bloc’s citing as precedent the fast-tracked transmittal to the Senate of the impeachment complaint against President Joseph Estrada by then Speaker Manuel Villar.
Villar said the act was "unconstitutional."
Lagman told an interpellator, Rep. Roilo Golez (Ind., Parañaque), that the "creeping" impeachment employed in Estrada’s case could not be used as precedent in the present situation so as not to "perpetuate" the mistake of the 11th Congress.
"We should perpetuate something right but strike down something that is wrong," he said.
In the 11th Congress, the justice committee had wrapped up its hearings on the Estrada impeachment case but had yet to submit its report to the floor when the required 77 signatures were met. With the endorsers making up at least a third of the membership, Villar "railroaded" the transmittal of the impeachment case for trial at the Senate.
Based on this precedent, the minority has been insisting that the impeachment complaint be automatically transmitted to the Senate once they muster the needed 79 signatures of endorsement even if the committee on justice has already assumed jurisdiction over the complaint.
The justice committee is waiting for the approval of the impeachment rules at the plenary before beginning to examine the form and substance of the complaint, after which it will hold hearings and investigations and then come out with a recommendation on the case.
A recommendation not to impeach can be overridden by a vote of one-third or 79 members at the plenary.
Golez, who has bolted the administration over the "Hello Garci" tapes, asked Lagman why he did not question the constitutionality of Villar’s move during that time.
"If it (creeping impeachment) is unconstitutional, how come you did not question it when you were even one of the prosecutors then (in the Estrada impeachment trial at the Senate)?" Golez asked.
Lagman blew his top, saying not questioning something that is wrong does not necessarily make it right. "Something that is wrong cannot be righted just because it was not questioned," he said.
LMAO @ Edcel Lagman.