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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.

-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

INTRODUCTION

We, the sovereign Filipino people The Constitution is opened by this meaningful reminder that we are not just a political community as Filipinos but as the fundamental law of the land safeguards, The Filipinos are sovereign. The Sovereign not only has the right to vote and to be voted but also has the right to strip a public officer of the privileges that were vested on him by reason of his appointment or election through an impeachment

proceeding. This is very much highlighted by Constitution in Article XI, Section 1 stating that Public office is public trust. January 16, 2012 marked the onset of the second

impeachment trial in Philippine history. A few years ago, the senate proceeded with the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada, now another figurehead on a

different branch is on the grill- no less than Chief Justice Renato Corona. While it has been true that the Constitution reserves the sole power to the Senate to try and decide impeachment cases, it is not the dead end. Answers can still be changed before the final bulwark of justice, the Supreme Court for a judicial review. The second paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution expanded the power of the Judiciary as it stated that the same have the duty, not only the power, to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of 1|Page
TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government through its expanded certiorari jurisdiction.1 Such being established, the Supreme Court can declare otherwise a decision of the impeachment court when the same has produced such decision with grave abuse of discretion. In its previous cases, the Supreme Court further

specified what grave abuse of discretion. In the case of Coconut Planters and Bank vs. Looyuko, exercise it of is defined as as is

capricious

whimsical

judgment

equivalent to lack or jurisdiction as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of jurisdiction must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of

positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law. In the same case, it has further defined that, grave abuse of discretion refers not merely to palpable errors of jurisdiction; or to violations of the Constitution, the law and jurisprudence. It refers also to cases in which, for various reasons, there has been a gross misapprehension of facts. In the impeachment case of Chief Justice Corona, it is very likely that the defense would resort to seeking a

reversal the moment the impeachment court finds the Chief

1 Aralar, Reynaldo. Separation of Powers and Impeachment. Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore, 2004.

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

Justice guilty of

the allegations.

As previously stated,

such political question becomes a justiciable one when it involved grave abuse of discretion.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Can the Chief Justice seek judicial review when the Impeachment Court finds him guilty of the allegations of the prosecution?

SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY This is an exploratory discussion of the probabilities which could arise out of the impeachment trial courts

decision as to the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. This specifically covers criterion on how to measure grave abuse of discretion using a collation of decided cases and relating them to the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice; how the Supreme acquire jurisdiction over decisions made by the Impeachment Trial Court and probable resolutions in case of allegations of grave abuse of discretion in both part of the Supreme Court and the Impeachment Court. Limitation of this research paper lies on it being exploratory in nature and the topic being discussed is yet to happen. For purposes of analysis, the research is limited to grave abuse of discretion involving misapprehension of facts. Research materials used are predominantly sourced out from the internet and the researchers have not adequately and comprehensively gathered Philippine jurisprudence

pertaining to impeachment. This is otherwise justified by 3|Page


TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

the

fact

that

impeachment

proceedings

in

the

country

is

considerably on its infancy stage as compared with the US.

OBJECTIVES Major Objective: This paper aims to set a criterion on how to measure grave abuse of discretion using a collation of decided cases and relating them to the current impeachment trial of the Chief Justice.

Specific Objectives: 1) Discuss how to determine grave abuse of discretion if it is committed by the Impeachment Court and if it is committed by the Supreme Court. 2) Discuss how the Supreme Court acquire jurisdiction over the decision of the Impeachment Court. 3) Discuss the probable resolution of the issue if the Supreme Court is alleged to have committed grave abuse of discretion and the impeachment court is alleged of the same.

METHODOLOGY Descriptive-analytical research method is used through utilization of books, e-books, journals, e-journals and

other research materials specifically those found in the law library of the University of San Agustin and downloadable relevant articles from the internet. Specifically,

jurisprudence, commentaries of legal luminaries, rules of 4|Page


TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

procedure promulgated by the Senate and the Supreme Court to name a few were utilized. DEFINITION OF TERMS a) Grave abuse of discretion refers not merely to palpable errors of jurisdiction; or to violations of the

Constitution, the law and jurisprudence. It refers also to cases in which, for various reasons, there has been a gross misapprehension of facts. It is also a

capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack or jurisdiction as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of jurisdiction must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law.2 b) Certiorari under Rule 65- refers to a special civil action that can be initiated on the grounds of lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction.3 c) Misapprehension of Facts- refers to a false impression or incorrect understanding especially of the nature of situation or a set of facts.4 d) Articles of Impeachment are the set of charges drafted against a public official to initiate the impeachment
2 3 4 Coconut Planters Bank vs. Looyuk, 534 SCRA 322, 09/28/07 http://www.1-4-3.net/remedial-law-bar-exams/?p=186 Microsoft Encarta Dictionary, 2007

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

process. The articles of impeachment do not result in the removal of the official, but instead require the enacting body to take further action, such as bringing the articles to a vote before the full body.5

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Looking proceedings transpired medium and in the back even at the previous attempts we have impeachment that have the E.

impeachment years, of

previous

witnessed Joseph

rare

impeachment

former

president

Estrada that started officially on December 7, 2000. The impeachment ended of up in a walk out of as in public Senate another

prosecutors, President and

resignation the

Senator of

Pimentel public

massive

cry

the

historic event known as EDSA 2.

Through the suggestion of

Senator Francisco Tatad, they voted on the opening of the second envelope containing crucial evidence that would in fact prove Estradas acts of political corruption. With an

11-10 vote, the Nays have it and the second envelope was not opened.6 On 17 January 2001, the public prosecutors to Speaker Fuentebella tendering their collective resignation submitted a letter. They also filed their Manifestation of Withdrawal of Appearance with the impeachment tribunal. Senator Raul Roco quickly moved for the indefinite postponement of the

(http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Articles+of+impeachment)

6 EDSA DOS, http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Edsa_Dos (2 April 2012). 6|Page


TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

impeachment

proceedings

until

the House

of

Representatives shall have resolved the issue of resignation of the public prosecutors. Chief Justice Davide granted the motion. As a result, the impeachment trial never resumed

and was soon pushed back into the publics subconscious, making it another part of history to be read and studied again by the coming generations.7

One issue involved in Estradas Impeachment trial was whether Estrada indeed resigned as President of the

Philippines or otherwise. The resolution of the issue states that even though ones intent to resign needs to be coupled with an act of relinquishment whether express or implied, oral or written. The facts of the case clearly showed that

Estrada did not leave any formal letter stating that he would resign from the presidency. In the diary of Executive Secretary Angara which was serialized in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, his [Estrada] resignation negotiation was implied Estrada during and the the first opposition stage about of a

between

peaceful and orderly transfer of power. In the second stage, his resignation was again treated as a given fact by leaving Malacanang. Justice Renato S. Estrada vs.

Puno declared in part for the Court in the Arroyo case:

7 Instances of impeachment proceedings/case, http://wiki.lawcenter.ph/index.php?title=Impeachment#_note-9 (31 March 2012).

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial
In a press the release containing of the his final as statement, President

2012

(1) of

he the

acknowledged

oath-taking

respondent

Republic, but with the reservation about its legality; (2) he emphasized he was leaving the Palace, the seat of the presidency, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of the nation. He did not say, he was leaving the Palace due to any kind of inability and that he was going to reassume the presidency as soon as the disability disappears; (3) he expressed his gratitude to the people for the opportunity to serve them; (4) he assured that he will not shirk from any future challenge that may come ahead in the same service of the country; and (5) he called on his supporters to join him in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity. The press release was

petitioners valedictory, his final act of farewell. now in the past tense. 8

His presidency is

Another, impeachment complaint was for Ombudsman Aniano Desierto for alleged bribery, violation of the Constitution and betrayal of the public trust that started on November 6, 2001. The complainant, Atty. Ernesto Francisco, claimed that in the latter part of 1997, his client, Bank of Southeast Asia, "gifted" the Ombudsman a video equipment, complete with accessories, worth about P283,000 and P500,000 in cash. This is allegedly to let the "Petron scam" investigation "die down" wherein three Petron checks worth P540 million and intended for payment to the Bureau of Customs were

deposited in a BSA account held by Skybound Realty Holdings and its owner, Arnulfo Cabalsa, and were subsequently

G.R. No. 146738, March 2, 2001

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

encashed. complaint.9

The

House

of

Representatives

dismissed

the

On June 2, 2003, the former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada filed the first impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. and seven Associate Justices of the Supreme were Court. The grounds for of that the impeachment

complaint

"culpable

violation

Constitution,

betrayal of the public trust and other high crimes ". On October 13, 2003, the House Committee on Justice ruled that the first impeachment complaint was "sufficient in form," but voted to dismiss the same for being

insufficient in substance on October 22, 2003.

Article XI, Section 3(5) states that, "No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year." This provision was violated in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Davide. On 23 October 2003, a day after the House Committee on Justice voted to dismiss the first impeachment complaint, the second impeachment

complaint against Chief Justice Davide was filed with the Secretary General of the House by Representatives founded on the alleged results of the legislative inquiry initiated by above-mentioned House Resolution. This second impeachment complaint was accompanied by a "Resolution of Endorsement/Impeachment" signed by at least

Estrada vs. Desierto, G.R. Nos. 146710-15, March 2, 2001 9|Page

TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

one-third

(1/3)

of

all

the

Members

of

the House

of

Representatives. The issue raised in this impeachment case was whether or not the filing of the second impeachment complaint

against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. falls within the one year bar provided in the Constitution.10 It was only four months and three weeks since the

filing of the first impeachment complaint, hence barring the second impeachment complaint under paragraph 5, Section 3, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution.11 On March 22, 2011, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was impeached by the House discussions of Representatives after lasted almost a

marathon

plenary

that

seven

hours. The House of Representatives approved (212 in favor, 46 against, in 4 abstentions) House Justice the articles of impeachment, No. 778,

contained

Committee Gutierrez

Report for her

against Ombudsman Merceditas

alleged

betrayal of public trust due to the low conviction rates during her term and her supposed inaction on five highprofile cases.12 On March 23, Tupas and company, including the two

leading complainants, personally submitted to the Senate the Articles of Impeachment. Later that day, the Senate adopted its rules for impeachment, adopting the rules used in the 2000 impeachment of Joseph Estrada with amendments such as
10 Instances of impeachment proceedings/case, http://wiki.lawcenter.ph/index.php?title=Impeachment#_note-9 (31 March 2012). 11 Francisco vs. House of Representatives, 415 SCRA 44, Nov. 10, 2003 12 (Instances of impeachment proceedings/case, http://wiki.lawcenter.ph/index.php?title=Impeachment#_note-9 (31 March 2012))

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

maintaining the silence of the visitors and neutrality among the senators. Finally, Gutierrez resigned on April 29, just ten days before the impeachment trial. resignation accepted letter to She personally handed her Aquino; the president then

President

the

ombudsman's

resignation. The

senate

canceled the impeachment trial and the senators thanked the ombudsman divisive, for and "sparing" painful" the country from a "tedious, Senate

impeachment

process.

President even thanked her as the senate can now concentrate on legislative matters. 13 The current impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona has several controversies. First, the appointment of

the Chief justice was a midnight appointment of the Arroyo administration just two (2) months before the former

President ends her term. what the constitution

This is definitely contrary to stating that two months

mandates

immediately before the next presidential election and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to

executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.14 Since the last trial before the Lenten season started, Chief Justice Corona has been pressured to take the witness

13 (Impeachment of Merceditas Gutierrez, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Merceditas_Gutierrez, 2 April 2012). 14 Article VII, Section 15, 1987 Constitution

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

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stand because the House Prosecutors and even the Senatorjudges believe that: 1) It would be a wise move for him to testify so he may give light to the issues regarding the entries in his SALNs, including the acquisition costs of his various properties, and source of the P32.6 million withdrawn from his account on Dec. 12, 2011; and the sale of their properties to a daughter, inter alia. 2) According to Marikina Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo, the prosecutions official spokesperson, the trial, being political in nature, demands that the accused take the witness stand and answer questions from the senatorjudges. Otherwise, this will be taken against him.15

In the course of the trial, Chief Justice Corona sought relief before his home turf when he alleged that the in

impeachment court committed grave

abuse of discretion

depriving him of constitutional rights.

How

can

the

Supreme

Court

acquire

jurisdiction

over

decision of the impeachment court? As previously discussed, a political question becomes a justiciable one if it involves grave abuse of discretion. But since the Supreme Court could not motu proprio initiate such proceeding, there should be a valid petition invoking the same.
15 Burgonio, TJ, Corona risks conviction by not testifying, prosecutors say, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 31 March 2012, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/170207/corona-risks-conviction-by-nottestifying-prosecutors-say (1 April 2012).

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

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Considering that forwarding the matter of dispute is not within the Judiciary, it follows a different procedure. In the regular course of things, forwarding a matter to the Supreme Court would only need a certiorari as a mode of appeal it is from the Regional Trial Courts, the

Sandiganbayan or the Court of Appeals. Such is within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. If the matter

is from a different branch of the government, the same could be forwarded before the Supreme Court via certiorari as an original action under rule 65. The same can only be filed on the grounds of lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to/tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction. This is very much applicable in cases wherein an aggrieved party seeks for a reversal of an opinion before the final arbiter of all disputes alleging the presence of grave abuse of discretion. So much so in impeachment

proceedings. In the case of the impeachment trial of the Chief

Justice, assuming that the impeachment court would render a decision probable unfavorable that the to the would defense, resort it to would the be very

same

above-stated

course of action. One of the grounds for grave abuse of discretion they could possibly raise is the misapprehension of facts since the evidences presented by the prosecution are currently just marked. The evidences still have to be weighed by the impeachment court. The impeachment court could also have the power as watchdog to allege that the Supreme Court committed grave 13 | P a g e
TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

abuse of discretion. As previously defined, grave abuse of discretion also involves a render by passion. The Canons of Judicial Conduct clearly states that the judges should not only be impartial but must be perceived to be impartial by a reasonable viewer. Even the cloak of the presumption of

regularity appears to be transparent considering that no less that the Chief Justice is on trial and the Supreme Court is his home turf. Such scenario is a fertile ground to sow doubts regarding a possible reversal of an unfavorable decision from the impeachment court.

Power of the Supreme Court to Review vis--vis Power of Legislative to Impeach

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King's horses And all the King's men Couldn't put Humpty together again!

The on-going impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona is a reminder that history repeats itself. As the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty goes, the on-going trial is like the tale of Charles majority Kings I (Humpty Dumpty) in the not of England whom the his and

Puritan days.

overthrow army

Parliament restore his

during power

The

could

unluckily the Roundheads executed him.

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

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Will this Humpty Dumpty be the Chief Justice of the Philippines as he is subjected on impeachment trial lately? The sovereign Filipino people are witnesses of the ongoing impeachment trial of the highest magistrate of the Philippine Supreme Court-Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Impeachment trial is a means not to overthrow a King on this regard but rather it is a powerful check and balance weapon of the legislative department to oust the erring impeachable officials when proved to be guilty of the allegations in the Articles of Impeachment. Impeachment does not necessarily mean removal from

office. It means that

once an impeachable public official be construed to

goes into an impeachment trial it shall

mean that he is given due process to prove that he deserves the office rather than being be removed from the office automatically. It is only a formal statement of charges,

which is akin to an indictment in criminal law. It is, therefore, office.16 only the first step towards removal from

The word impeach is derived from the Middle English term "empechen" which means "to impede" or "to accuse." It also comes from the Latin word "impedicare" which means "to entangle" or "to put in fetters." From these, it can,

therefore, be inferred that the "person impeached is not

16 UST LAW Review December 2004

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

2012

necessarily adjudged guilty as impeachment only means that he has been formally charged of an impeachable offense."17

Once a public official is impeached, he or she faces the probability of conviction by means of a legislative

vote.

Conviction, on this aspect, is equal to removal from

the public office. It requires 2/3 vote of all the Senator judges in order to sustain the conviction of the impeachable officials given that the removal from public office presents an overturning of normal constitutional procedures by

which an individual may achieve high office like in cases of election or appointment. Impeachment is usually reserved for those who are deemed to have committed abuses in the discharge of the public office trusted to them. The reason why the impeachment court is also called as the people's court is because the proceeding is initiated by the House of Representatives. In fact, the initiation of the same is reserved by the Constitution solely to the House of Representatives.18 It being more in number compared to the

upper house, it is considered to be representative of the people. A verified complaint may be filed by any member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any member thereof.19 Such will be

17 Carmelo V. Sison and Florin T. Hilbay, Impeachment Q & A (Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippines Law Complex, 2000), 1. 18 See Section 3 (1), Article XI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution 19 The Supreme Court decision in Francisco et al. vs. House of Representatives (GR No. 160261, 10 November 2003), states that Impeachment proceedings are initiated upon filing of the complaint and/or resolution and its referral to the Committee on Justice.

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

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included in the Order of Business of the House within ten session days from receipt of the impeachment complaint. It must be referred to the proper committee within three

session days thereafter. The members shall submit its report to the house with the corresponding resolution. Such resolution shall be

calendared by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof. A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall within be the necessary Articles to of affirm a favorable of the

resolution

Impeachment

Committee, or override its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded.20 However, even without the House Committee Report or the Articles of the Committee, the Constitution provides that: "In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment if filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same and shall trial by constitute the the Articles of

Impeachment, proceed."21

Senate

shall

forthwith

Therefore, there are two ways to transmit the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial without need of a report: 1. By means of a complaint for impeachment verified by at least one-third of the Members of the House; 2. By means of a resolution of impeachment filed by at least onethird of the Members of the House. The verified complaint or

20 Refer to the RULES OF PROCEDURE IN IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS promulgated by the 15th Congress of the HOUSE OF THE REPRESENTATIVES and adopted last August 3, 2010. 21 See Sections 3 (1) and 3 (2), Article XI, 1987 Constitution

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

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the

resolution

filed

accordingly

shall

constitute

the

Articles of Impeachment.22 The constitution also requires that the votes of those who are for and against the

impeachment have to be recorded.

The impeachment proceeding is sui generis in nature. It would seem that the existence of an impeachment court is either an overlapping of the powers of the Senate or an establishment of a fourth branch of the government. Such point is somewhat strengthened since the impeachment court is sui generis which is Latin for a class in itself. It is very unique, very different from judicial courts that do not follow strictly the Rules on Procedure. In this case, the Senate, seating as an impeachment court, can use the same as suppletory in case it be needed.23 Therefore, proving the guilt is less demanding since it will not follow the quantum of evidence required in

criminal cases which is proof beyond reasonable doubt. It follows also that the Senator Judges can ask questions for clarification in case there is vagueness in the presentation all in the interest of justice. The impeachment court is a fact-finding body that examines, tests or tries whether the one holding a high level government position has the

necessary high level qualities needed for that position. This disproves the speculation that the impeachment court is an overlapping to the powers of the Senate or an

22 Section 3 (4), Article XI, 1987 Constitution 23 http://blogwatch.tv/2012/01/a-primer-on-the-new-rules-of-procedure-governingimpeachment-trials-in-the-senate-of-the-philippines/

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TORRE, LLANTINO, TAMBA, MENTINO, ARCONES, Ll.B.-1, UNIVERSITY OF SAN AGUSTIN, COLLEGE OF LAW

How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

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establishment of a fourth branch of the government since it is an affirmation of the sovereignty of the Filipino people in the search for truth. It has been lenient in the

application of rules to give way for clarification. The impeachable offenses are political offenses in

nature as distinguished from criminal ones. As such, the subject of impeachment are "those which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature, which may with peculiar propriety be denominated, political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. 24

In the Philippines, the 1987 Constitution Article XI Sec.2 states that 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.

Furthermore, Section 3 par. 1 provides that the House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment. It shall be noted that the power to impeach or not to impeach lies solely on the discretion
24 Antonio R. Tupaz and A. Edsel c.F. Tupaz, Fundamentals on Impeachment (Metro Manila, Philippines:Central Lawbook Publishing Co., Ine., 2001), quoting Alexander Hamilton (emphasis in the original), 6.

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How Deep is the Grave: Measuring Grave Abuse of Discretion in the Chief Justices Impeachment Trial

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of the legislature as what the present Constitution in its chapter on Accountability of Public Officers.

The Senate shall have the sole power to try and to decide all cases of impeachment.25 If it is the President

who is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside but shall not vote although he has the power to rule on but or questions not relating to, When to evidence presented relevancy, officials

including, competency

limited

materiality, impeachable

admissibility.

other than the President are tried, the Senate President presides over the trial. In either, case, the Senators The

shall act as Judges, hence the term "Senator-Judges."

concurrence of two-thirds of all Members of the Senate is required in order to sustain a conviction.

However,

it

was

held,

that

even

if

the

power

of

impeachment has been solely vested by the Constitution on the Legislative Department of the government, it shall never be interpreted that all acts related to the impeachment

trial goes out of the ambit of judicial review primarily because of the averment that it is a political question. The Supreme Court, as part of the democratic society, has been mandated by the Fundamental Law of the land that it has been vested a judicial power. This judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving
25

rights

that

are

legally

demandable

and

Art. XI. Sec.3 (6) ,1987 Constitution

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enforceable, and to determine whether there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of

jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.26

Thus, where the House of Representatives, through its conduct or through the rules it promulgates, transgresses, in any way, the detailed procedure prescribed in the

Constitution, the issue is far removed from the sphere of a "political question," which arises with the exercise of a conferred discretion, and transformed into a constitutional issue falling squarely within the jurisdictional ambit of the Supreme Court as being the interpreter of the

fundamental law.27

The impeachment trial, on this case at hand, marks a new stage to the infant status of the Philippine Legislature to act as an Impeachment Court for the first time to hear and decide the case of the Chief justice. This is a fresh alarm formal Renato for the legislature aimed to exercise at impeachment Chief based as a

inquiry Corona

ultimately to

making people

Justice on the

accountable

the

principle that public office is a public trust.

On February 8, 2012, Corona filed a 39-page urgent petition for certiorari that sought from the high court a
26 Art.VII. Sec 1 (2),1987 Constitution 27 Separate Opinion of Justice Vitug in the case of Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, November 10, 2003.

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temporary restraining order as well as a writ of preliminary injunction during the pendency of the case, claiming that his right to due process was violated and that the Senate, as an impeachment court, committed grave abuse of

discretion.

Petitioner has suffered grave and irreparable injury due to the continuing violation of his constitutional rights by respondents. Unless a TRO is issued forthwith, the trial shall continue and banks and their representatives will

produce and disclose the confidential statements, documents and accounts of petitioner, amounting to irreparable injury from which petitioner has not appeal or other plain, speedy and adequately remedy. 28

Fr. Joaquin Bernas opined that the Supreme has the jurisdiction over petitions involving cases with grave abuse of discretion in any proceedings like the impeachment trial of Corona.

Nevertheless,

the

Impeachment

Court

presided

by

the

Senate President, Juan Ponce Enrile averred that the Supreme Court, in spite of the fact that it has the judicial power to review actions of different branches of the government, cannot assume jurisdiction over the power, solely vested on

28 Opinion made by Chief Justice Renato Corona posted http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/142077/corona-asks-sc-to-stop-impeachment-trial-bank-subpoenas

in

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the Senate sitting as an Impeachment Court to try and to decide impeachment cases.

Thus, it can be construed that the Impeachment Court submits and follows to the mandate of the Highest Law of the land and laws enacted of duly constituted authorities, but it cannot let the Supreme Court assume jurisdiction in

handling the impeachment proceedings. This is in consonance with the specific provision of the 1987 Constitution 1987 Constitution in Article XI decide all cases of Sec 3 Par.6 now and to on

try and the

impeachment

unless

Constitutional provision is changed.

Furthermore, it can be inferred that the Supreme Court can also be charged of committing grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction should it assume the

Senates power to try the impeachment case of the Chief Justice.

Grave "capricious

abuse or

of

discretion exercise

generally of

refers as

to is

whimsical

judgment

equivalent to lack of jurisdiction." The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty

enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner because of passion and hostility.

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The

Constitutional

grant

that

the

Legislative

Department has the vested power of impeachment cannot deny the provision embodied in the same Constitution that the Supreme branches Court of has the power if to review is actions grave or of abuse the of of

the

government to

there

discretion

amounting

either

lack

excess

jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the judicial power of the Supreme Court to review erring is not actions absolute. of its of of It each shall department also be of the

government within commit the

exercised it might of

scope

authority;

otherwise, to

grave

abuse

discretion

amounting

lack

jurisdiction, as the case may be.

The

standard

of

grave

abuse

of

discretion

is

of

remedial law origin and has acquired well-known parameters in that field distillable to two alternative propositions: (1) it connotes arbitrary conduct or (2) conduct that is more than mere error.29

If, in reviewing acts of any tribunal . . . exercising judicial . . .functions in petitions for certiorari, the Court does not overturn rulings of judges, who are under its supervision and control, for mere errors of judgment or for non-arbitrary conduct, there is more reason to let lie

undisturbed the non-jurisdictional errors committed by any

29 Applicable to special actions for the writs of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

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branch or instrumentality of the Government, done in the exercise of their discretionary powers. 30

The officials in these branches are neither under the control nor under supervision of the Court. As Justice Irene R. Cortes had opined:

The [grave abuse of discretion] test . . . should apply with greater cogency to the executive and legislative branches of government. As to [them], the exercise of the power and duty of judicial review would call for a higher degree of self-restraint and circumspection. Should no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction taint the challenged acts of the executive or the legislature the courts must necessarily uphold them. For the expanded constitutional power of judicial review cannot be read to place in the judicial branch of government the prerogative to substitute its judgment for that of the branch of government in which the discretion has been reposed.

Indeed, every time judges loosely construe the grave abuse of discretion standard in applying the second clause of Article VIII Sec. 1, par. 2, they defeat the purpose

for which this stringent doctrinal standard was embedded in the power granted, giving fresh outlet for protests of

Rule 65, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides: When any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered annulling or modifying the proceedings of such tribunal, board or officer, and granting such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require.

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judicial

overreaching the

to

surface, of

undermining, the impugned

however judicial

infinitesimally, act.31

legitimacy

The Impeachment Court could be guilty of grave abuse of discretion if there is capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction." The

abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion a of duty a positive enjoined duty by or a or virtual to act refusal at all to in

perform

law,

contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary hostility. and despotic manner because of passion and

For

instance,

when

the

Impeachment

Court,

would

go

beyond the mandated procedural and substantive provision of the Constitution with regard to the impeachment proceedings (i.e. as to the number of votes necessary to convict an impeachable public official, denial of due process to the public officer facing impeachment trial, and other violation on the Rules in Impeachment Proceeding), the Senate could be guilty of grave abuse of discretion. Supreme Court can review such On this regard, the made by the

actions

Impeachment Court.

31 In the field of constitutional interpretation, jurists have advocated a double standard to review questions involving personal rights and economic policy as interpretive tool to ease structural tensions occasioned by the exercise of judicial review. See e.g. Vicente V. Mendoza, The Nature and Function of Judicial Review, 31 IBP JOURNAL 6 (2005).

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On the other hand, when the Supreme Court goes outside of its constitutionally a purely mandated jurisdiction with (as regard such the

reviewing

political

question

decision of the Senator Judges), the Supreme might commit grave abuse of the discretion and can be alleged of such by the impeachment court.

RESOLUTION OF ISSUES

If one is fated to be ousted, there is no point of holding a cavalcade and arming oneself with petitions to review the judges verdict for the constellation in the sky commands an immutable order to surrender that throne as the superior judge of the highest tribunal. Hence one has to bid goodbye to that office. Nonetheless, fate or things other than what the constitution or applicable laws provide to overthrow a Chief Justice has no bearing, we are a

government of laws and not of men and the body politic does not always conform to what fate, destiny or luck has to offer. The state has legal means to protect the rights and

interests of each individual which means that everyone even the Chief Justice should be accorded the right to be tried impartially. If after days and months of heated arguments in the impeachment court, the judges had come into a decision

affirming the allegations of the prosecution that indeed the Chief Justice had betrayed the public trust and had violated 27 | P a g e
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any other basis for impeachment, what more can the Chief Justice do? Given that his credibility, integrity and not to

mention source income are on the line, most probably he would exhaust all possible means to modify the judges

decision. What would he do then? One pretty obvious remedy is to seek refuge from the Supreme Court via certiorari under Rule 65 alleging that the verdict is unreasonable, excessive, unwarranted, inequitable or undeserved because he would allege that there were misapprehension of facts on the part of the senator judges and the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings were not adhered to which had

immensely affected the judgment. The Chief Justice then would feel aggrieved and as a result, he would file a petition for certiorari with the Court of Last Resort. As a result, our Supreme Court would eventually take cognizance of his petition because the

Constitution so mandates as evident on Article VIII, Section 1 expressly stating that Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice which to are settle actual controversies and

involving

rights

legally

demandable

enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.32

32 2012.

Lawas , Hector. SC has power to review actions of the impeachment court, February 12,

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Renowned constitutionalist, Fr. Joaquin Bernas stated that the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction over petitions involving cases with grave abuse of discretion in any

proceedings like the impeachment trial of our Chief Justice and his statement was further affirmed by Fr. Ranhilo

Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law. Dean Aquino stressed that the impeachment court is not an

independent republic and it remains part of our government, thus still subject to the powerful claws and scrutiny of our Highest Magistrate. However, the petitioner is no other

than the Chief Justice, the members of the Supreme Courts comrade in the administration of justice, and so the

question of partiality would be a deafening concern. Though the Supreme Court Justices are not infallible because they are just like ushuman and subject to temptations still the researchers find the issue untenable because they are the care takers of justice and they are also subject to the prying eyes of the public considering that they too are impeachable officers, the tendency is, they would be more careful on their every move and cautious in deliberating and deciding the case.

Basing on the aforementioned contentions, the Supreme Court may review the verdict of the impeachment court. On the other hand, the legislative department particularly the senator judges, as envoy and voice of the Filipino people would not concur on the precept that the Supreme Court may review their decisions because of the provision on article 29 | P a g e
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XI, section III, paragraph VI that states The Senate shall have the sole power to decide all cases of impeachment... and paragraph IX of said section The Congress shall

promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this section. A statement quoted by Senator Pia Cayetano from Michael Gerhardt Judicial review of such an impeachment procedure would undermine the impeachments effectiveness especially judicial abuse of power. Judicial review of the impeachment process would give judges of the Supreme Court the last word on the propriety of the procedure for their own removal, and thus the chance to make their own, or their colleagues removal virtually impossible outcome ways.33 by ensuring to the that most the Congress complex could and achieve such

solely Simply

time-consuming would not

stated,

impeachment

court

accede to favor the decision of the Supreme Court in case it would overrule their verdict or decision on the impeachment case of the Chief Justice by reason of grave abuse of

discretion. It could therefore be inferred that the two branches of government would collide on the central issue of whose voice should be echoed to the public and whose decision should be followed. If the scenario would continue to be as chaotic as this controversial trial of our Chief Justice then the fight for truth and justice would never be won, the case would be

33

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Haunting Questions, February 18, 2012.

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left unresolved and it would give birth to a new dispute and argument. There is therefore a need to draw a clear and fine line that would define the functions of the two gnashing

independent bodies of the government, the Judiciary through Supreme Court and the Legislative due to the Impeachment Court. of the As previously ruled by the Supreme Court, the grant power to impeach upon the Legislature by the

Constitution is not without limitations. For instance, its power to promulgate its rules on impeachment is limited by the phrase "to effectively carry out the purpose of this section. Legislature Therefore, cannot the rules the promulgated very purpose by of the the

contravene

Constitution which aid rules intended to effectively carry out and when they do, they begin to fall within the ambit of the expanded concept of judicial review as embodied in the 1987 Constitution and hence, the Supreme Court may look into their legality.34 The Supreme Court can only review the

technicalities of the impeachment proceedings which would mean that the courts jurisdiction would be limited to the procedural aspect that would make sure that both parties had been accorded their constitutional rights and the Supreme Court can only intervene if their jurisdiction is invoked. They could not therefore question the decision of the

impeachment court for if the Supreme Court would do that, they would be circumventing the Constitution because they acted beyond their powers. This would entail that we should
34 Janice G. Ayson, Intricacies of the Impeachment Process.

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always go back to the intention of the Constitution that recognizes public office as public trust. The sound

discretion and verdict of the senator judges speaking in behalf of the Sovereign Filipino people should therefore be upheld without the intervention of the Supreme Court.

Conclusion

The Doctrine of Separation of Powers guarantees that each of the branches of the government is sovereign in its own jurisdiction. Although that is provided by no less than the Constitution, intricate webs of encroachment or

interference cannot be helped. In the impeachment case of Chief Justice Corona, one can speculate that it is very likely that a constitutional crisis is an incident waiting to happen. The Supreme Court has the power to determine grave abuse of discretion on the part of the impeachment court when invoked by an aggrieved party, allege and that the the It impeachment Supreme appears court also has the power abuse to of

Court that

committed there will

grave be an

discretion.

endless

bouncing of assertions between the two courts. Such will only constitute of an exchange of how powerful they are or how a certain matter is under its jurisdiction backed up by legal basis or by jurisprudence.

The researchers would like to give a distinction on the extent of judicial review on the part of the Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court can review the procedural facets of the impeachment trial vis-a-vis court the should mandates not of the the

constitution

however

the

review

decision of the impeachment court in this case. It being sui generis, it is supreme in its own jurisdiction. The Supreme Court can only get into the picture if the matter forwarded before it involves grave abuse of discretion and if, and only if, an aggrieved party invokes it. Without these twin requirements, the impeachment court is untouchable. It also follows that anything that it has decided, given it is not forwarded for judicial review, is final. The researchers would offer a resolution. While it is true that the Supreme Court can decide on matters involving the grave abuse of discretion from any branch or

instrumentality of the government, the impeachment court is the court of the sovereign Filipino people. If the same has rendered a decision, the researchers suggest it is best to be respected because it is no less than the sovereign

Filipino people that have given the verdict.

REFERENCES a) Books Hutchinson, Greg. Hot Money, Warm Bodies: The Downfall of President Joseph Estrada. Pasig City, Philippines: Anvil Publishing, 2001.

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Wilkinson, Earl and Atkins, Alan. Trial of the Century: The Impeachment of Philippine President Joseph E. Estrada. University of Michigan: Book of Dreams, 2001. Sison, Carmelo and Hilbay, Florin. Impeachment Q and A. Quezon City: Philippine law Complex, 2000. Aralar, Reynaldo. Separation of Powers and Impeachment. Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore, 2004. Aguilar, Narciso. Through the Eyes of the Law: Deja Vu at EDSA : an Account of the Legal Consequence of People Power 2. Quezon City: Central law Books, 2003. Mendoza, Vicente. The Nature and Function of Judicial Review, 31 IBP JOURNAL 6 (2005).

1987 Philippine Constitution

b) Jurisprudence Francisco vs. House of Representatives, 415 SCRA 44, Nov. 10, 2003 Estrada vs. Desierto, G.R. Nos. 146710-15, March 2, 2001 Coconut Planters Bank vs. Looyuk, 534 SCRA 322, 09/28/07 G.R. No. 146738, March 2, 2001 G.R. No. 146738 March 2, 2001. JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, petitioner, vs. GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, respondent.

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c) Electronic Sources http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/C/Certiorari.asp x http://www.1-4-3.net/remedial-law-bar-exams/?p=186 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sui_Generis_%28Latin_expre ssion%29 Microsoft Encarta Dictionary, 2007 http://legaldictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Articles+o f+impeachment FAQ on Impeachment in the Philippines, 14 March 2011,http://www.tan.org.ph/index.php?option=com_content &view=article&id=149:faq-on-impeachment-in-thephilippines&catid=55:impeachment-in-the-philippines2011&Itemid=98 (1 April 2012). Burgonio, TJ, Corona risks conviction by not testifying, prosecutors say, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 31 March 2012, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/170207/corona-risksconviction-by-not-testifying-prosecutors-say (1 April 2012) Yasmuan, Cathy C., Coronas testimony to help defense, Santiago says, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 31 March 2012, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/169889/coronastestimony-to-help-defense-santiago-says (2 April 2012

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EDSA DOS, http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Edsa_Dos (2 April 2012).

Instances of impeachment proceedings/case, http://wiki.lawcenter.ph/index.php?title=Impeachment#_n ote-9 (31 March 2012).

Calonzo, Andreo C., House impeaches Merci for betrayal of public trust, 22 March 2011, http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/215844/news/nation /house-impeaches-merci-for-betrayal-of-public-trust, (2 April 2012).

(Impeachment of Merceditas Gutierrez, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Merceditas_ Gutierrez, 2 April 2012).

RULES OF PROCEDURE IN IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS promulgated by the 15th Congress of theHOUSE OF THE REPRESENTATIVES and adopted last August 3, 2010.http://blogwatch.tv/2012/01/a-primer-on-the-newrules-of-procedure-governing-impeachment-trials-in-thesenate-of-the-philippines/Citation?

Antonio R. Tupaz and A. Edsel c.F. Tupaz, Fundamentals on Impeachment (Metro Manila, Philippines:Central

Lawbook Publishing Co., Ine., 2001), quoting Alexander Hamilton (emphasis in the original), 6. Separate Opinion of Justice Vitug in the case of

Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, November

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10, 2003. Opinion made by Chief Justice Renato Corona posted in http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/142077/corona-

asks-sc-to-stop-impeachment-trial-bank-subpoenas

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