Friday, August 11, 2006

Edcel Lagman's rules

If we used Edcel Lagman's rules today, di hindi na sana na disqualify ang mas malakas na impeach complaint laban kay arroyo over Lozano's.

Given Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's penchant for the fine parsing of legal technicality, the conundrum is from what date we must count the one-year bar on the filing of second impeachment case against Arroyo. Do we reckon the date from June 27, 2005 when Lozano filed his first complaint? Or June 28 when it was endorsed by Alagad Party-List Rep. Rodante Marcoleta? Or July 25 when it was referred to the committee on justice?

The first challenge therefore was to be the first to file on the first possible allowable date (hence, the "Lozano Watch" on the Batasan grounds of the House of Representatives on the eve of June 26). The next was to file successive complaints, lest a bogus impeacher slip into the sequence; in that scenario, all that a pliant Congress had to do was find its
"preferred" impeachment complaint. It would then fix the cut-off date just in time to exclude all prior complainants, allow the bogus impeacher to file (which would then trigger off the one-year rule), and then bar all subsequent complaints. That the eighth impeachment complaint has survived, means that the 2005 preemption problem has at least been hurdled.

What is amazing is Rep. Edcel Lagman's twist on the cut-off date, to extend the one-year bar even longer and exclude even more complaints. The Supreme Court has defined the moment that triggers the one-year bar: "when a verified complaint is filed and referred to the Justice Committee for action." The House then adopted that ruling and codified it verbatim into its own Rules on Impeachment.

The Lagman twist now says that the bar extends not just to the date of "referral," but the date of "receipt" by the committee. By that reckoning, all but one of the complaints are deemed premature. And irony of ironies, had Lagman used this formula last year, the Lozano complaint could not have barred the stronger impeachment complaints because all of them were referred to and received by the justice committee on the same day! What a difference a year makes.

the goalpost keeps changing.

No comments: