Impeachment and the Vice President

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VICE President Jejomar Binay claims that the threat of an impeachment looms over him. He, along with his family and close associates, has been fending off allegations of corruption, which he said was a political ploy to thwart his presidential bid in 2016. The Palace and its political allies have denied being the force behind the supposed plot, but the Vice President cited a document from the Office of the Ombudsman saying he was being investigated “for purposes of determining sufficiency of evidence that would warrant a filing of impeachment.”

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Certainly, Vice President Binay should have his so-called day in court. He should be given a chance to face his accusers and answer all of the accusations that have been hurled against him. And given that the wheels of justice grind slowly in the Philippines, we hope that the Vice President also takes his case before the bar of public opinion. In dismissing the accusations as a mere political ploy, he leaves voters and the public at large hanging.

Having said all that, we object to the use of impeachment as a political weapon. Reducing the impeachment to a numbers game seems inconsistent with the gravity of the offenses that it is designed to suppress. Article XI, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, gives the grounds for impeachment: “The President, the Vice President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commission, and the Ombudsman, may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”

Laws are supposed to be for the society’s benefit. They are not meant to advance anyone’s political ambitions.

End does not justify the means
If recent history is a guide, then Vice President Binay may have reason to be concerned. Early in his term, President Benigno Aquino 3rd twice led an impeachment against his perceived nemesis.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was bullied into resigning by the threat of an impeachment. Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached, but his conviction was allegedly secured by paying off senators, who stood as judge and jury in the impeachment trial.

In a privileged speech before his detention, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada divulged that at least P50 million was paid to each senator in exchange for a guilty verdict against Chief Justice Corona. Some senators supposedly received more.

Naturally, the Palace denied the allegations. But officials did acknowledge doling out DAP-funded projects to lawmakers before and after the impeachment trial. As we know, the DAP or Disbursement Acceleration Program, was declared unconstitutional in a unanimous Supreme Court decision. And unlike other forms of pork barrel, the DAP was funded by “savings,” a misnomer that refers to diverting funds from approved budget items to projects handpicked by the Palace.

If the Vice President is to be impeached, will public funds be diverted to corrupt lawmakers just to secure the votes needed for his removal from office? We hope not. Even if one accepts that Mr. Binay is unfit to be president, does that justify the tyranny of an incumbent who happens to prefer a less popular candidate to be his successor? Does the end justify the means? We disagree. No matter how seemingly lofty the intentions, an evil end corrupts the action.

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12 Comments

  1. Leonito Suarez, Jr. on

    He who says that Pnoy has been doing well is out of touch with reality. Pnoy made good in destroying our basic institutions: the legislative and the judiciary, bribing the legislators to bismerch the judiciary. Pnoy also tried to sell Mindanao to Malaysia by upholding the cause of the rebel group that is bankrolled by Malaysia.This is treasonous, the fact that Tha rebel group has been very proud of declaring that they are a rebel group and would remain to be so even if they get what they want.

  2. Rom A. Cator on

    Corruption has been the biggest problem of the
    Philippines.I am a 74 year old man and I may have a 2 cents worth of an idea that can diminish or eliminate corruption. It is not a
    guarrantee though.
    If we do not a law yet that prohibits individuals with outstanding and unresolved allegations on plunderand or corruption against them to file their certificate of candidacy for any public office more particularly for president in 2016 elections.
    And if we do not have that kind of law yet,
    why don’t we grant the Comelec that power with the help of the Senate, The House of Representative and the Judiciary? This will bring back the lost confidence of the people
    towards the government.
    This will also gain back the confidence and trust of the international business communities thus making our economy better.

  3. There is no doubt that political events are very important subject in the national life. This the main staple of the middle class and above. For the masses it is entertainment. These two are the indicators of the great divide of the Philippine society, and the failure of the media to integrate the concerns and interests of the two groups. This condition makes the Philippine democracy weak.

  4. Let Binay answer all the allegations. If he is guilty then he gets imprisoned for corruption. After all he has very good lawyers and support of the Cojuangcos.
    There are many deserving candidates for President of the republic of the Philippines so I am not bothered whether he runs or not! I am equally confuse on Grace Poe’s insistence that she run with Chiz who is married to actress Heart. So we have again bunch of actors and actresses. We need to find the best candidate for President if not why not extend Aquino’s term. He is doing good.

  5. Tricycle Driver on

    So if the impeachment clamor did not occur around or close to the elections, would it still be politically motivated (a political weapon, as you say)?

    Or, should the Filipinos wait til after Binay becomes President to get the impeachment effort started?

    Also, how can the impeachment effort NOT be political when POLITICIANS are involved?

    If, say, Binay truly is guilty of any of the dozens of charges against him and makes him disqualified in the elections, wouldn’t that advance some other politician’s ambitions, whoever that politician may be?

    Shouldn’t you, Manila Times, insist under no uncertain terms that Binay should face his accusers in court? If he’s proven not guilty of any of those charges, wouldn’t you say that it would almost guarantee that the Presidency is his?

  6. Vic Penetrante on

    DAP-funded projects benefited not only the lawmakers, but more so the President against impeachment. The Vice President has reason to be concerned about his impeachment, because his dole-outs did not reach the lawmakers.

  7. Mar Padilla, Jr. on

    If both houses holds the majority with sitting President, the impeachment should go to the Supreme Court with the Chief Justice, excuse herself or himself because she/he was appointed by the sitting President. In fact this lawmakers either the lower or upper house should not becomes an investigators because they were not elected as investigators but a law-makers. All what this lawmakers/investigators doing are to shame the person under impeachment to the lowest kind of animal and then whether there is a solid evidence or not, they will file a case to the Ombudsman or Sandigan Bayan. Its up to this two to figure it out whether there is strong evidence to convict. Its a laughable matter especially if the person on trial is not guilty. But going back to the argument, these lawmakers who shame this person are of course still laughing, because you cannot file a case back against these lawmakers. Very sad indeed. We have to change the law that this elected lawmakers should do only law-making duties not as investigators. Or the could create a Royal Commission to investigate and let this Commission to file the case in court, if there is an evidence of conviction. Royal Commission should compose of at least five Retired Judges from Supreme Court to Court of Appeal, Chief Provincial Judges, or the Chief Prosecutors.

  8. Bonifacio Claudio on

    Binay and Aquino is like the “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”. Let’s go instead for the Filipino patriots in the likes of Duterte, Merriam Santiago(?), BB Marcos, but what a pity Joker Arroyo can no longer be considered on the list.

    • MARCOS?…How Crazy are you? the name alone is the definition of the worst things that happened..maybe Duterte, Santiago and Joker Arroyo are ok, but don’t include Marcoses…the Thieves!

  9. Bobski Natividad on

    Just a tought why do the Binays think they deserve to be in Malacanang? Who do they think they are the annointed ones? Is Makati no longer big enough for them? Thirst for power has no satisfaction

    • correction…! only one binay and not “they”…if one aspires for president is their place is no longer big enough for them?…for roxas is the DILG not big enough for him..? for grace is the senate not big enough for her..?