‘It’s not an instruction to impeach’ – Tupas

Carmela Fonbuena
‘It’s not an instruction to impeach’ – Tupas
The chairman of the House committee on justice says he doesn't interpret the President's speech as a go-signal for his committee to go after Supreme Court justices

MANILA, Philippines – House committee on justice chairman Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas said he supports President Benigno Aquino III’s position against Supreme Court ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) saying that it was “too legalistic” and “narrow minded.”

“I support the explanation of the President that the DAP benefited the people. The SC should not forget that laws are made for the people. If you’re being too legalistic of the interpretation of the law, it might frustrate the spirit and the letter of the law,” Tupas said in a press conference on July 15, a day after the President’s televised speech. (READ: Aquino hits SC, insists DAP is legal)

But Tupas said he doesn’t interpret the President’s speech as a go-signal for his committee to go after the justices even as he conceded that a motion for reconsideration will not prosper considering the SC’s 13-0 vote. (READ: Appeal on DAP ruling risk that executive must take)

“It’s not an instruction to impeach,” Tupas said in a press conference on July 15, a day after the President’s speech. 

The House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate the impeachment of public officials.

Some lawyers and lawmakers were bothered by the President’s speech, and interpreted it as a threat to impeach the justices. (READ: Aquino SC impeachment threat worrisome)

The President spoke of SC’s supposed “personal vendetta” against him making the justices ignore his administration’s legal defense of DAP. He warned of a clash between Malacañang and the Supreme Court. (Read his entire speech here.)

Aquino said: “My message to the Supreme Court: We do not want two equal branches of government to go head to head, needing a third branch to step in to intervene. We find it difficult to understand your decision,” the President said, referring to the Court’s decision on July 1 declaring key executive moves under DAP as unconstitutional.

Asked if the committee is ready to hear possible impeachment cases against the Supreme Court justices, Tupas was evasive. “It’s a hypothetical question, the readiness of the committee. It’s our constitutional mandate to hear impeachment complaint as long as it is valid,” Tupas said. 

An original member of the President’s Liberal Party, Tupas was also the chairman of the House committee on justice during the previous 15th Congress when the legislative chamber went after SC justices including the chief justice at the time, Renato Corona. Congress successfully impeached Corona, and the Senate impeachment court in 2012 declared him guilty of violating the Consttitution – leading to his dismissal.

Tupas said he wasn’t surprised by the combative tone of the President in his speech. “The President felt he had to do it. He has to exhaust all remedies under the Constitution and the present laws. He addressed the members of the Supreme Court and he asked them to support the administration,” he said. – Rappler.com

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