I CHOOSE NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS IMPEACHMENT PROCESS

A Manifestation
Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III
4th District, Quezon Province
2 December 2008

Mr. Speaker,

Friends from both sides of the aisle and outside the halls of this august chamber have asked why I did not participate in the Committee of Justice during the impeachment proceedings.

Mr. Speaker,

I purposely boycotted the impeachment proceedings in the Committee of Justice. After having witnessed and participated in three impeachment proceedings, it is my humble opinion that no sitting President, present or future, will ever be impeached by the House of Representatives through proceedings in the Committee on Justice. As a matter of fact, I do not even see any future impeachment complaint hurdling the obstacle of “sufficiency in substance”. The only avenue left for a sitting or future President to be impeached is through the “fast-track” model that is if 1/3 of the Representatives affix their signatures as endorsers of the impeachment complaint or vote against the Committee Report dismissing the impeachment complaint which seems to be an impossibility nowadays when this or any President in the future commands tremendous power and influence.

Mr. Speaker,

Sumasangayon ako na ang impeachment ay isang political na proseso kung saan ang tanong na dapat sagutin ng impeachment court sa Senado ay kung tatanggalin ba o hindi ang Pangulo. It is not the duty of the House of Representatives to act as an impeachment court. Sad to say, in my humble opinion, the House of Representatives has been over-stepping its duty and has been acting as an impeachment court by the sheer force of numbers and not out of reason and fairness.

I believe that the Truth will never be ascertained in a political process where numbers are used as a basis on determining whether a President should be held accountable for his or her actions. As I explained my vote in previous impeachment proceedings, impeachment proceedings do not automatically find a President guilty but may also declare him innocent.

Mr. Speaker,

When will we ever take the task to impeach public officials seriously so much so that we take time to hear and appreciate testimonies and evidence?

How do we view our sole and sacred duty as members of the House of Representatives to hold the President accountable as enshrined in the Constitution?

Is the Article on Accountability of Public Officers regarding the Office of the President rendered inutile by sheer numbers?

Is this the message that we want to send the youth? That numbers can hide the truth.

Mr. Speaker,

I can feel our youth’s disenchantment with political institutions and their sense of helplessness and hopelessness. We may pat ourselves in the back and be proud of what we accomplished today. I feel we just proved to the youth of the land that we the House of Representatives have failed to inspire them to love our country more beyond self and beyond party affiliation.

Mr. Speaker,

Paumanhin sa mga kaibigan sa mayorya at sa minorya na alam kong ibinigay ang panahon sa napakasalimuot na isyung ito. Ayokong maging bahagi sa isang proseso na nagbibigay ng maling pag-asa sa hinahanap nating katotohanan. Tiyak ako na ito ang ikakasira na naman sa imahe at kredibilidad ng Mababang Kapulungan kung may natitira pa.

And so, I choose not to participate in this process. I choose to boycott and not take part in the vote that we are about to cast tonight.

Thank you very much.

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