Friday, October 28, 2011

LIMITATIONS ON THE POWER OF IMPEACHMENT

Respondent House of Representatives counters that under Section 3 (8) of Article XI, it is clear and unequivocal that it and only it has the power to make and interpret its rules governing impeachment. Its argument is premised on the assumption that Congress has absolute power to promulgate its rules. This assumption, however, is misplaced.
Section 3 (8) of Article XI provides that “The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this section.” Clearly, its power to promulgate its rules on impeachment is limited by the phrase “to effectively carry out the purpose of this section.” Hence, these rules cannot contravene the very purpose of the Constitution which said rules were intended to effectively carry out. Moreover, Section 3 of Article XI clearly provides for other specific limitations on its power to make rules, viz:
Section 3. (1) x x x
(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof.
(3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary to either affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded.
(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.

It is basic that all rules must not contravene the Constitution which is the fundamental law. If as alleged Congress had absolute rule making power, then it would by necessary implication have the power to alter or amend the meaning of the Constitution without need of referendum.
In OsmeƱa v. Pendatun, this Court held that it is within the province of either House of Congress to interpret its rules and that it was the best judge of what constituted “disorderly behavior” of its members. However, in Paceta v. Secretary of the Commission on Appointments, Justice (later Chief Justice) Enrique Fernando, speaking for this Court and quoting Justice Brandeis in United States v. Smith, declared that where the construction to be given to a rule affects persons other than members of the Legislature, the question becomes judicial in nature. In Arroyo v. De Venecia, quoting United States v. Ballin, Joseph & Co., Justice Vicente Mendoza, speaking for this Court, held that while the Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings, it may not by its rules ignore constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights, and further that there should be a reasonable relation between the mode or method of proceeding established by the rule and the result which is sought to be attained.

1 comment:

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