Akbayan Executive Committee
November 04, 03
The impeachment attempt on Chief Justice Hilario Davide is purely and simply an act of political blackmail. The congressmen who initiated the complaint can attempt to entangle us in the legal and technical complexities of the impeachment process. But they cannot argue or lie their way out of three very basic questions: What is the basis for the impeachment complaint? What is the motivation behind it and why file it at this time?
NPC Reps. Wimpy Fuentebella and Gilbert Teodoro insist that they are impeaching Justice Davide due to his misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF). First of all, employees in the judiciary have denied fueling an impeachment initiative. Second, Congress has no power to audit the Judiciary’s use of its funds. Section 2 of the JDF law (Presidential Decree 49) very clearly states that the Chief Justice has the exclusive power to authorize and approve disbursements and expenditures of the Fund (in accordance with guidelines and implementing rules). This authority is held in check by the Commission on Audit (COA), which is the constitutional body with the legal mandate to examine other constitutional bodies that have fiscal autonomy (Article IX, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution).
If NPC congressmen were really interested in the abuse of the JDF, they could have easily asked the COA Auditor to submit its JDF audit reports to the House. There is in fact a pending inquiry on the JDF in the House Committee on Justice, as per House Resolution No. 460. The Committee has yet to release its Committee Report. If they were really concerned about employees in the judiciary deprived of their COLA (cost of living allowance), the initiators could have tried to amend the JDF law to alter the Chief Justice’s discretion over the Fund. But no-the NPC wanted only to impeach Justice Davide.
The motives are obvious: to get back at the Supreme Court for its decision on the public character of coco levy funds and to influence its prospective decisions on other Danding Cojuangco cases. It is of little public knowledge that Mr. Cojuangco has three (3) other criminal cases pending before the Supreme Court: the Bugsuk Island and Unicom cases (which are still related to the coco levy) and the Bulletin case, where Cojuangco was charged with corruption for acting as a “dummy” of Ferdinand Marcos in the acquisition of shares in the Manila Bulletin. He has 9 civil cases pending in the Sandiganbayan that will eventually end up in the Supreme Court.
Billions of pesos are at stake here. The pursuit of justice for all of us, victims of the thievery of Marcos and his accomplices, is at stake here. The very institutions of democracy are on the line.
For AKBAYAN, silence or neutrality is not an option. We condemn this attack on the integrity and independence of the Supreme Court and the entire Philippine judiciary. It is an exercise in political harassment by the NPC leadership or certain NPC leaders that reinforces the reputation of the House as a den of vested interests. As for the rest of the signatories, including party-list representatives who are normally vocal against corruption, their endorsement of the complaint is either a product of the same malice as that of the initiators, or of irresponsibility and ignorance. It is enraging to think how difficult it was to get the same people to sign the impeachment complaints against former Ombudsman Aniano Desierto and COMELEC Commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco-complaints that had considerably greater merits than this one.
AKBAYAN appeals to the signatories to withdraw to their signatures from the impeachment complaint. We demand that the House leadership clarify Congressional rules on the (otherwise explicit) 1-year bar on second impeachment complaints within a one-year period. We likewise call for the continuation of the House inquiry on the JDF, as well as for strategic reforms in the judiciary that will ensure transparency within the framework of fiscal autonomy.
AKBAYAN calls on the Filipino public to reject this travesty of democratic processes. We call on the electorate to mark the names of those who lent their signatures to this shameful effort. We appeal to all citizens of conscience to support Justice Davide and to punish cronies like Danding Cojuangco by boycotting San Miguel products until this outrage ceases.
Justice begins where the impunity of thieves ends. We will not allow our democratic institutions to be mocked by those who would destroy a respected public servant and cripple due process to protect their master and benefactor who has yet to pay for his crimes against this nation.