Impeachment is the process wherein a legislative body formally levels charges against a high official of government. In the Philippine 1987 Constitution, it lays down rules to make top officials including the President, Vice President and Supreme Court members accountable through the impeachment process.
According to Section 1, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution ” Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”
Impeachment has been defined as a national inquest, thus it is necessary to make sure that the public officers have the moral fitness and integrity. Some top officials may enjoy the immunity from suit while in the office but this does not get them completely off the hook.
Who may be impeached?
Under Section 2 , Article XI of the 1987 Constitution ” The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.”
Who can file for impeachment?
As stated in Section 3, Article XI, any member of the house of Representatives have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment. Any Filipino citizen may also file a complaint upon a resolution of endorsement by a House member. A vote of at least one-third of all members of the House is needed to pass the impeachment.
Process of Senate at the House of Representatives
The impeachment process begins at the House of Representatives, a verified complaint must be filed by any member of the house of representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any member thereof. And once it has been filed it shall be included in the order of business within ten session days from receipt. After the inclusion, the complaint should then be referred to the House committee on justice within three session days, thereafter.
Then after the hearing and by a majority vote of all its members, the committee shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral together with the corresponding resolution. In the committee hearings, a vote of at least one-third of all members of the house shall be necessary either to affirm favorable resolution with the Articles of impeachment of the Committee. The vote of each member shall be recorded.
And if the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the members of the house, the same shall be constitute the Articles of Impeachment and trial by Senate shall proceed.
Process of impeachment Trial at the Senate
The Senate has the power to decide all cases of impeachment in a full-blown trial. When the President of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside over the proceedings. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.
Consequences of Conviction
Under the Republic of the Philippines, the person impeached shall be removed from the office and shall be disqualified to hold any office but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to prosecution, trial and punishment according to law. The person impeached shall also be held for appropriate action as a result of his illegal and improper acts.