Impeachment, according to Enrile

Juan Ponce Enrile

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Enrile says the SC has the power to review acts of the impeachment court

TAKING FULL RESPONSIBILITY. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (Photo by Emil Sarmiento)


May I now state the position of this humble presiding officer. And this position is subject to the opinion of the court, of the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.

[In the] humble view of the presiding officer, the Senate as an impeachment court must at all times observe the rule of law.

It cannot transgress any of the applicable provisions of the bill of rights. It must be guided by the presumption of innocence, before the pronouncement of guilt. It must at all times observe the principle of procedural and substantial due process.

It cannot use its power to issue compulsory process or processes to compel any witness to appear and testify and in testifying is forced to commit a crime. It cannot compel a witness to testify against himself.

It cannot arbitrarily declare a person guilty of contempt and deprive of that person his or her liberty.

It cannot violate the laws passed by Congress of which it is an integral part.

That is the humble position of this presiding officer of this Senate sitting as an impeachment court.

Now, as far as the subpoena duces tecum involved, which was issued by this presiding officer upon the behest of the prosecution, this presiding officer assumes full responsibility for issuing that subpoena. And is ready to defend his position in any court of law if there is a need for that.

I will not pass the buck to the Senate sitting as an impeachment court. It was my decision as the presiding officer and I am personally bound to assume the consequences of my action as a presiding officer.

Having said that, I do not wish to delve on the issue [on the] exercise to issue compulsory processes by this court in this particular instance involving Republic Acts 1405 and 6426.

I do not want to make any pronouncement on that because precisely this court, through this presiding officer, exercised the discretion to heed the request of the prosecution to issue a subpoena duces tecum to help them obtain the evidence they wanted in the face of proscriptions by laws of the land passed by Congress.

SC’s powers

And that is the subject matter now of the case before the Supreme Court filed by a private party asserting its rights under the laws of this country and under the Constitution to be protected from any liability, and that is the reason for which the Supreme Court issued a TRO.

And that is the reason why this court, or a majority of this court, yesterday ruled, in an open, uninfluenced voting that the court must respect the order of the Supreme Court to issue its temporary restraining order.

Whether or not in the end this court abused its discretion or committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction will be decided…by the Supreme Court being the highest court of the land and the final arbiter and interpreter of the Constitution of this country.

For no one else was given by the sovereign people in their Constitution the power to make a final determination or interpretation of what the Constitution ought to be or what a law ought to be except the Supreme Court.

Not the executive. Not congress. But only the Supreme Court.

And so it is my bounded duty as the presiding officer of this impeachment court to respect the authority, the power of the Supreme Court to review acts of this impeachment court, in interlocutory matters, meaning, matters bearing on the manner which this court will conduct the trial of this particular impeachment case.

But it is my humble view that the Supreme Court, in spite of the fact that it has the power of judicial review, cannot assume jurisdiction over the power, the sole power of this Senate sitting as an impeachment court to try and decide this impeachment case.

That is the position of this humble presiding officer.-

(Presiding Officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile issued this statement on Tuesday, February 14, at the resumption of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.)

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