Saturday, October 25, 2003


The House of Representatives has amassed enough votes to impeach Hilario Davide, Supreme Court Chief Justice, for alleged misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund. Full story here. Boy are we in trouble!

We've got issues. Can a second impeachment complaint prosper within one year from the filing and dismissal of the first? Can the Chief Justice be impeached for using his discretionary fund according to his discretion? Did Danding Cojuangco's lapdogs in Congress sign the impeachment complaint for truth and justice to prevail? Is 1 + 1 = 3?

It's a waste of parliament time. But nonetheless, the judiciary has been rocked. What I'm looking forward to now is the legal team who will comprise both the prosecution and the defense of this impeachment crazy country. I doubt it very much if the Makati lawyers will take the prosecution side this time considering that this impeachment move is very unpopular. So I don't expect to see the Mario Bautista types. An interesting point is that we might actually be seeing Estelito Mendoza back in action this time as a member of the prosecution. Atty. Mendoza is Danding Cojuangco's star lawyer and definitely the man has what it takes plus the seasoned experience to handle this job.

But whoever will represent the prosecution in this impeachment will find themselves up against real back-breaking lawyerly work. The evidence is going to be a pile of vouchers, receipts and audit reports. There is hardly enough excitement in there to rock a teapot. In other words. half the work is how to prevent the audience and jurors from falling asleep. The other half is how to make them understand how these vouchers and receipts can justify a conviction. The worse part is there is simply no case. It is an idiotic complaint. My forecast is no self-respecting lawyer will take up this case to the Senate. What we are going to see for the side of the prosecution is a bunch of incompetents who think they can achieve fame and fortune by defending the rich, powerful and stupid.

As for the defense, Davide practiced law in Cebu. So his legal team might be comprised of the legal eagles in the south. We may be looking at former President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Arthur Lim to lead the defense. Further, I think the volunteer lawyers will all be in the defense. So this is where we might find the Mario Bautista types. To hell with the San Miguel Account. In this moment of darkness, I believe the lawyers will side with the just -- in the same way that the volunteer lawyers were all in the prosecution during the Estrada Impeachment.

But the work for the defense is not going to be easy either. Sure, this is an easy win. The prosecution cannot make a case. But the Senate will decide on the basis of political affiliation, unless there is overwhelming public settlement that Davide should be acquitted. So the task of the defense is not just to win but to win resoundingly. The people should be moved so the Senate will do its work. So what is the defense going to do? The legal defense is going to be esoteric -- i.e., the JDF is not a pie that is so static you can slice it into 10 and give the 8 to the employees. It is rather a wriggler that shrinks and expands during the year that even if you divided it 80-20 every month at the end of the year the summary is still not going to be 80-20. The reality of managing fund such as the JDF is you can't plan enough for it because you cannot tell how much money will go to it because it depends on the number and nature of cases being filed in all the courts in the entire archipelago.

The prosecution wiil counter this by showing the state of the judiciary -- i.e., awful looking courts, underpaid court employees, stinking court toilets, etc. -- and Davide's "alleged" abuse of discretion in the use of the funds for Supreme Court resthouses and cars. Then, they're going to insist to compute the 80-20 appropriations in the JDF as if the fund doesn't decrease and increase every day that a case is being filed. It's legally not enough basis to impeach the Chief Magistrate of the land. It's not even enough to dismiss the Supreme Court's chief accountant. But this should be outweighed overwhelmingly. I don't have the slightest idea how this can be done.

What is the endgame? I think the Senate will either shoot down the impeachment Complaint on day one on the basis of the constitutional prohibition against a second impeachment complaint within the same year of the first or Davide will be in clear jeopardy of being removed from office. But unlike the Estrada impeachment where he saw the best and brightest legal luminaries in action, the Davide Impeachment will send in the clowns.

The impeachment circus side bar is on. I'm preparing a blog exclusively for the impeachment so I can understand this crazy development. The blog is found here At least, I have something to be excited about.

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