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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Impeachment

Impeachment in the Philippines is an expressed power of the Congress of the Philippines to formally charge a serving government official with an impeachable offense. After being impeached by the House of Representatives, the official is then tried in the Senate. If convicted, the official is either removed from office or censured.

Impeachment followed by conviction is often the only way to forcibly remove a sitting official. While "impeachment" is often used to refer to the entire process of removing an official from office, it only formally refers to the indictment stage in the House of Representatives, not the trial stage in the Senate. Under the current Constitution, an official can be impeached if one third of the House of Representatives votes in favor. Since it takes only a simple majority to set the agenda or to adjourn the House, it can be difficult for a minority of one third to bring a vote and impeach an official.

Impeachable offenses

The Constitution limits the offenses to the following: culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.

In the 1935 and 1975 constitution, betrayal of public trust was not an impeachable offense.

Culpable violation of the constitution, For purposes of impeachment, "culpable violation of the constitution" is defined as "the deliberate and wrongful breach of the Constitution." Furthermore, "Violation of the Constitution made unintentionally, in good faith, and mere mistakes in the proper construction of the Constitution do not constitute and impeachable offense."

According to the Revised Penal Code, treason is defined as "Any Filipino citizen who levies war against the Philippines or adheres to her enemies, giving them aid or comfort within the Philippines or elsewhere."

Bribery, The Revised Penal Code defines bribery in two forms:

Direct bribery is "committed by any public officer who shall agree to perform an act constituting a crime, in connection with the performance of this official duties, in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present received by such officer, personally or through the mediation of another."

Indirect bribery is "committed by a public officer when he accept gifts offered to him by reason of his office."

Graft and corruption, Any violation of the Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act is an impeachable offense.

Other high crimes or betrayal of public trust, In Francisco Jr. vs. Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., the Supreme Court purposely refused to define the meaning of "other high crimes or betrayal of public trust," saying that it is "a non-justiciable political question which is beyond the scope of its judicial power." However, the Court refuses to name which agency can define it; the Court impliedly gives the power to the House of Representatives, which initiates all cases of impeachment.

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