The Impeachment Process

Section 1, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution declares that “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”  These words echo loud and clear today as our country’s leaders find themselves at the brink of conducting this constitutional process.

Impeachment has been defined as a national inquest into the conduct of public men. It is a necessary safeguard to ensure that public officers have the moral fitness and integrity to fulfill their mandate. The provisions on impeachment are enshrined in Article XI of the 1987 Constitution.

WHO MAY BE IMPEACHED

Under the Constitution only the following public officers may be impeached: The President, Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman. This list of officers is exclusive. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.

GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT

The grounds for impeachment are: culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. These grounds are exclusive and offenses not falling within these parameters shall not be sufficient for impeachment purposes.

PROCESS AT THE HOUSE

The process begins at the House of Representatives, which has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment. A verified complaint must be filed by either a Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof. Once the verified complaint has been filed it shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House
within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof. In the committee hearings, a vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded.

If however, the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.

TRIAL AT THE SENATE

The Senate has the sole power of sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. When sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside, but shall not vote. No
person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.

CONSEQUENCES OF CONVICTION

The person impeached shall be removed from office and shall be disqualified to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines, but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to prosecution, trial, and punishment according to law. It is clear that the liability does not end at the Senate, the person impeached shall also be held for appropriate action as a result of his illegal and improper acts.

In addition, a limitation is set where no impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.