Reviewing the Impeachment Process
FILIPINOS ARE not strangers to the idea of impeachment. Recent political history saw the impeachment of a sitting president, Joseph Estrada; an incumbent chief justice of the Supreme Court, Renato Corona; not to speak of five failed impeachment complaints against former President Gloria Arroyo.
An impeachment complaint was filed on March 16 against President Rodrigo Duterte by Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano. A few days later, staunch ally of Duterte and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez announced that he is studying the filing of an impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo.
Congress is on recess and will only be able to take up the complaint when it resumes on May 2. Alejano admitted that he timed the filing of the complaint before the recess to buy time to lobby for support. Likewise, the recess provides the media enough time to explain the political process of impeaching a public official.
Whether or not the complaints prosper, it is worthwhile reviewing how the process works.
Rappler’s “FAST FACTS: How does impeachment work?” tracked the steps that move a complaint forward. The article listed officials who can be impeached, who can file a complaint, and what the law says are grounds for complaint.
Another Rappler article, “If the VP is impeached, who takes over?,” explained the process of selecting the successor to a vice president once the second highest post is vacated. It also detailed the rules of succession for the positions of the president and vice president should it be necessary to fill both posts.
InterAksyon provided a similar effort with “IMPEACHMENT | How it works and who have been charged.” Aside from explaining the process an impeachment complaint would take, Interaksyon also revisited impeachment complaints filed against other officials in the past.
The impeachment process is a political process although the Senate sets itself up as a court. But its conduct and outcome involve the public outside of the Senate hall and the reactions in what is called the “court of public opinion.”
The conduct of every government process must be accountable to the public. The people in turn, must be well informed to be able to evaluate how public interest is served or failed.
Thankfully, the media makes it possible for ordinary citizens to see and hear everything for themselves. But every other effort should be taken to educate the public so they can follow the motions and evaluate the prosecution and defense of the official on trial.