January 14, 2012
Trillanes' view gains support from respected lawyers
Senator Antonio "Sonny" F. Trillanes IV view on impeachment as a political process has been affirmed by legal experts, among them a former chief justice of the Supreme Court, a former Philippine senator and a former UP law dean.
In a speech at a forum at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG) earlier this year, Trillanes said he conducted a thorough research on impeachment, making use of the skills he learned at the UP NCPAG as a policy researcher.
"Impeachment is a constitutional process which is sui generis - meaning, a thing of its own. Thus, limiting impeachment as a judicial trial based solely on evidence would be improper. In fact, not a single book or reference I encountered that says that impeachment is a judicial trial solely based on evidence. To the contrary, all of these references defined or referred to impeachment as a political process," Trillanes said.
Trillanes obtained his Master in Public Administration degree from the said college.
Trillanes cited numerous books and references to justify the point that the impeachment process is a political process, among them Alexander Hamilton's Federalist No. 65, Matthew J. Franck's The Supreme Court and the Politics of Impeachment and Charles Gardner Geyh's When Courts and Congress Collide: The Struggle for Control of America's justice System.
In his recent column in a national publication, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said that, "By its nature, however, impeachment belongs more to the people than to lawyers; more to public wisdom than to legalisms... Legislators are thus expected to discharge their duties as our people's trustees, not as pseudo-lawyers. When they initiate or decide impeachment cases, they carry the public weal first and foremost."
"In the end, the litmus test of an impeachment is policy-oriented: will the people and the nation be better served by retaining or by ousting impeached officials? Reason and logic, emotion and passion there will be, but the decision of the people's alter egos will always be justified by their sense of what is advantageous and beneficial to the country," Panganiban further explained.
Trillanes claims that this was also the essence of the speech he delivered at the forum at UP NCPAG. "Having established that impeachment is a political process, therefore, my verdict should not be based solely on evidence as it now becomes a matter of public policy. And the over-arching policy issue in this whole impeachment episode is, whether the conviction or acquittal of Chief Justice Renato Corona would be good for our country?" Trillanes said.
Trillanes, however, said this did not mean the evidence should be completely disregarded, noting that the "strength or weakness of the evidence, and how they are presented could very well affect the political acceptability of either policy alternative."
Lawyer Rene Saguisag, himself a former senator, also agreed with Trillanes saying, "I agree with your position, if I understood it correctly, on how the people and their elected representatives may not be excluded in the national inquest now going in the trial of unelected Chief Justice Rene Corona on issues involving the heart of government functions (not that cockamamie plagiarism charge)."
Respected law professor and former UP law dean Pacifico Agabin, in a program televised at a local cable news channel, likewise cited Trillanes stance on the nature of the impeachment trial, saying that the same is the "correct position" on the matter.
 With due respect: More political than legal, Inquirer 1/08/12, also published at the Inq.net: http://opinion.inquirer.net/20707/more-political-than-legal
 Rene Saguisag comments on Trillanes’ speech, published in Aksyon/Balita (ABC5): http://www.interaksyon.com/article/21368/saguisag-trillanes-on-impeachment-and-evidence
 Aired at the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on January 10, 2012.
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