See Inq7.net’s report on the preparations for this afternoon’s and this evening’s goings-on in the House of Representatives.
4:19 Leaving nothing to chance, the administration’s been careful to pack the galleries with its supporters in preparation for the “marathon session” on the Committee on Justice rump report on the last impeachment complaint.
4:24 RG Cruz being coy, but hints there will be former supporters of impeachment who will make an effort to justify their change of heart. Roll call taking place.
4:29 information on composition of the crowd: prior to today, gentleman’s agreement between majority and minority was that North gallery would be reserved for pro-impeachment members of the public, while South gallery would be for the anti-impeachment audience.
At 9 am, under the auspices of Rep. Marcoleta, 12 busloads of people began unloading in the House. Add to that 200-300 who came from a luncheon with the President, and it’s clear the agreement was ignored. Rep. Marcoleta also apparently got into a tussle with House security because he wanted the people he brought in to occupy the gallery reserved for the impeachment complainants.
4:38 RG Cruz says Rolex Suplico is raising procedural questions concerning calling of the roll and reading of the journal of the House.
5:05 Rep. Roman speaking about white envelopes, according to a text message sent me. Nothing on TV. However, it’s being carried live on DZBB AM radio. Justifies his support for the President; says the only one more qualified was Roco but he got sick and died. Harangues audience on what he says he learned from the impeachment process. Radio says Jueteng witness Sandra Cam and Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn sitting beside each other in gallery.
5:17 Coverage on TV finally goes live. Roman rambles on. Glosses over legitimacy. Says second complaint, concerning killings, makes everyone “sick to their stomach” but -it’s not impeachable. No facts to justify demand for command responsibility. Says appointment of Joc-Joc Bolante doesn’t mean she must have known or intended to do the things Bolante’s accused of. Denies, too, President’s culpability for her husband’s business doings. Etc, etc, etc.
5:21 Coverage on TV discontinued for now. Coverage on DZBB continues.
5:23 Roman finishes self-justification. Speaker suspends session for a minute.
5:32 It seems from radio coverage that break might be caused by Rep. Escudero’s expressing the desire to interpolate Roman.
5:37 Escudero asks, are we in a rush? Nograles replies, we don’t mind if Escudero makes a manifestation.
Suplico: quibbles about Roman being given additional time, and that the part of the speech that went overtime be stricken from the record.
Nograles: we don’t do that.
Suplico: Rules! Quibble! Quibble!
Nograles patiently stands his ground.
Suplico: Quibble! Quibble! After 16th minute, strike it out of the record!
Nograles: We don’t do that.
Suplico: Uh, OK, but I insist I must quibble!
Gilbert Remulla: Nograles prevailed upon Roman to give way to pending business… But it is germane to the discussion. Roman was with us last year. It would be interesting to hear more reasons why he won’t be voting with us.
Speaker: (in lofty parliamentary language) we take note of all the quibbling.
(A party list rep. joins in the quibbling.)
Speaker: Roman is willing to engage in quibbling at a later date.
Remulla: Gosh, we just wanted to hear Roman justify himself some more.
Speaker: What has Roman to say?
Roman: I am happy to quibble, but later.
Speaker: we have it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Another congressman: let us set aside a period for quibbling.
Speaker recognizes Nograles: I have asked Roman to give way, so he can be quibbled with later…
The other rep. does more quibbling.
Speaker: Let us stop quibbling.
Remulla: The country deserves to hear the quibbling. I am disappointed.
Butz Aquino: We do not wish to get in the way of quibbling. But if Roman wants an end to quibbling, let him sit down. Otherwise, it appears Roman’s being stifled.
Speaker recognizes Escudero who yields to Golez.
Golez: I wish to know when, exactly, we can quibble with Roman. His remarks are interesting to us.
Speaker asks Nograles to state the date.
Nograles: Quibblefest at 4 pm on Monday.
Speaker: Quibblefest date’s set (bangs gavel).
Rep. Cayetano: We are good hosts. Food is laid out for us. Can we get sandwiches for guests in gallery?
(Gallery erupts in enthusiastic applause, crossing party lines)
Speaker: Sometimes the opposition has brilliant ideas.
Gummy old congressman: Show me the money!
Cayetano: I donate 5,000!
Ablan: I match it!
Speaker: I double it all!!!
Nograles: Additional food business, Mr. Speaker.
(congressmen start collecting cash, crowd lustily applauds)
Cayetano: We are opening our wallets in the minority. If we’d opened the ballot boxes during the canvassing, we wouldn’t be here. (crowd applauds)
Paras: I voted for opening boxes. Cayetano didn’t. (smiles smugly)
5:53 Escudero: loftily decries Roman’s not being open to quibbling; if he didn’t want to quibble, he could have refrained from his speech; I demand to quibble, too. (session suspended)
5:59 Escudero disputes Roman’s points justifying his rejection of the complaint. Reminds everyone of the fatal consequences that railroading the President’s proclamation has had. Reminds everyone the opposition kept compromising on what they wanted examined (sets the stage, I think, for what the public will witness later with the dismissal of the impeachment complaint). We are being haunted by these issues. They simply won’t go away. Roman says there was no cheating in the last elections. There was. We can prove it. You say, we don’t have evidence, but you won’t let us show the evidence. For shame! We are giving the President an opportunity to defend herself. She could ask for a bill of particulars. But she and you won’t budge. Zeroes in on Joc-Joc Bolante allegations and how, the President, if she had nothing to hide, could answer.
(above being followed on AM as Dong Puno’s interrupted television coverage to interview the Aquinos: killing two birds with one stone)
6:05 Escudero continues by quoting the national anthem… We aren’t asking the President to die for her country. We’re only asking her to answer and be answerable to the country. Let her answer under oath so we can move on; we would accept a verdict after a thorough reckoning. But she doesn’t want one.
6:15 Rep. Datumanong embarks on his sponsorship speech, for the rump report of the Committee on Justice.
We decided to address the prejudicial question or anterior issue of which complaint was filed according to the proper schedule. Refers to last year’s handling of the question…
(AM radio coverage drifts off…)
6:25 DZBB reports Datumanong wrapping up. Passes baton to Edcel Lagman. Silly announcers bantering -and keeps breaking in so correspondent can’t complete her enumeration of Datumanong’s arguments- while Lagman drones on in the background. Questions from anchor, indicates public’s pulse and why opposition kept quibbling: Roman’s turning his back on the impeachment smacks of his diminished honor.
Lagman’s speech not covered, preempted by GMA’s 24 Oras.
6:34 mirabile dictu, government radio station covering events life.
Back to Lagman: While our duty is to do our job, it is the Filipino people’s duty to see through the charade of the opposition, and their using unsuspecting members of civil society. The constitution is being debased to obtain media mileage. I urge this chamber to jettison to impeachment complaint as recommended by the Committee on Justice.
(booed and applauded)
Speaker recognizes Luis Villafuerte.
6:36 Villafuerte (with a glowering Mikee Arroyo sitting right behind him) I want to clarify what we’re voting on later tonight. We are to follow the Constitution. It says to impeach a president, not a majority is required, but only 1/3 or 78 only, and our President’s impeached. We cannot say this is the tyranny of the majority. Only 1/3. So if the complainants can get 1/3 it would be sent as articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial. But if they can’t get 1/3, they should accept the will of the House. They can’t say we’re railroading things. Only 1/3 is required by 1987 Constitution approved under Cory Aquino. What does Constitution say?
There’s a ban on impeachment more than once a year; they filed eight! Can’t they read? They’re playing blind! So Committee dismissed seven! Only one was left. Let’s not fool ourselves. The entire country’s watching. Let’s not confuse and fool and deceive them! Quotes a columnist who says the multiple complaints were “irredeemably idiotic”.
(waves constitution at crowd) And the complaint must be verified! Supreme Court says how verification is done; based on knowledge or authentic documents; so even if you know of something, if not based on authentic documents, it doesn’t matter! It shall be treated, says the Supreme Court, as an unsigned pleading and dismissed. They verified it based on belief and appreciation of the contents! There are no authentic documents! All the people should know we shouted for the Constitution to be followed but they played deaf! It’s important for us to know! And they keep repeating: they haven’t been given a chance to present evidence. What’s happened to the rules on impeachment? When new rules were proposed for the 13th Congress, the majority was willing for evidence to be presented. But opposition itself objected! They didn’t wanted the new rules. They wanted the old rules from the time of Estrada! We debated long! They didn’t want to accept our very positive and constructive proposals! And upon motion of Rep. Cayetano, we adopted the rules we use now, unanimously. And the rules state that the form is determined; then sufficiency of substance; if lacking in substance, then dismissed; if sufficient, then only then is the President required to answer; and only then, a reply; and then, rejoinders, with affidavits and counter-affidavits, and even documentary evidence. We haven’t even reached that, because they failed the first two steps, which brings us here to this dismissal. they are fooling everyone! They wanted these rules! Now they don’t want them! (makes folksy sayings in Bicolano).
Arroyo won by over 1,200,000 votes!
I will not be thwarted by noise! Let’s have sportsmanship! 1/3 only required! Then you complain because of your confidence! To overcome the victory of a candidate you have to overcome the majority of 1,200,000! That’s democracy! That’s why in political science, you hear of gerrymandering! That’s why next week, I will submit to Webster’s a new word, to be called “Dinkyfication” -a person who, when there’s trouble, brings roses and sings “Let’s hold on together” and then turns traitor!
You may get mad at me. Or be irritated. I’m just telling the truth. I just like being frank.Let’s not confuse the population. I have lots more to say.
But you might not be able to take it. You see, when people exchange points, things can get heated. Yesterday I asked Rep. Cayetano, are you accusing First Family of having multimillion dollar foreign accounts? He wouldn’t answer. But then in media he says things. He won’t go with First Gentleman. He’s only after media mileage!
Anyway, I’ll be magnanimous and end here.
6:53 Nograles reads order of those to quiz sponsors. Chair asks public not to make noise. Suspension. Government reporters say grand total of 50,000 pesos has been contributed to the national economy thanks to the generous contributions of congressmen for sandwiches. Also, many people already going home, they say. Video showing students leaving galleries.
It’s almost predictable, considering how it will turn out, one announcer says.
Other commentator compensates for this blunt observation: I wonder how many will grandstand without an audience! Commentators vie to prove their loyalty to management by denouncing the opposition’s rhetoric. It looks like there’s a trend! A change in position! Now congressmen for impeachment are speaking in defense of the President! Announcers smile broadly.
Villafuerte joins them and praises himself. Says opposition isn’t after impeachment but only to cause trouble and destabilize things. They’re hurting the President so I thought it good to give them a dose of their own medicine.
Announcers parade various administration congressmen to prattle before congressmen.
Rep. Defensor: I shall repeat keywords for the night: grandstand, destabilize, old issues, complaint is dead. I don’t believe we in the majority have no conscience (announcers giggle appreciatively).
Announcer: why is leadership of House too liberal and generous?
Defensor: I guess… Uh, preemptive response, I mean, maximum tolerance.
Announcer: Last Hurrah, like that?
Villafuerte: No one will believe that our President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a mass murder! It’s really hard to find criminal masterminds. It’s been 23 years since Ninoy was killed, and we still don’t know, not even Cory Aquino could find out! That’s what happened to John F. Kennedy! And Kuratong Baleleng! Can we imprison Ping Lacson under the principle of command responsibility? I think not. So how can you go after the President?
Announcer: What about all this stuff in Germany?
Villafuerte: Millions of dollars! But who in First Family? Cayetano wouldn’t say! Not accusing, just asking he says! Hypocrite!
7:11 even government station tires of its own incense and goes on a break. Everyone’s probably gone off for dinner, which trumps all political considerations.
7:18 Rep. Cagas can’t resist government air time to give the nation a preview of his speech to vote in favor of dismissal.Shift to roving reporter who interviews Sec. Raul Gonzales on the session floor, he complains about the audience. Reporter says both sides are emotional.
Gonzales: Decorum! If I were presiding I’d clear them out and lock the doors…
Reporter: Government says let’s move on. Opposition says issues will haunt us.
Gonzales: That’s the problem. We are never satisfied. It’s like going to court. You lose case, claim judge was bribed…Must be part of the Filipino psyche.
Reporter: What about opposition appeal to set aside technicalities?
Gonzeles: Rules are rules. You have the sergeant at arms, you have the mace. Use it! Not only on members of the House, but the audience here out of the courtesy of the House!
Reporter accosts Rep. Ben-Hur Abalos, asks him if he objects to decision to have congressmen explain votes in reverse order.
Abalos: No problem, Rep. Ronnie Zamora will go first because he just had heart surgery. And let me explain why I’m voting to dismiss impeachment… Repeats Palace key words: grandstand, destabilize, old issues, complaint is dead.
(I’m going to have dinner; coverage will resume when session resumes)
7:41 Parade of the faithful continues on government TV.
Rep . Cagas: Ethics commission can expel Rep. Cayetano for saying the President is kleptomaniac. Imagine that? Calling her a thief and a murderer? You can never prove it! He should be expelled!
Rep. Dimaporo: We do not believe the President or Garcillano cheated. Garcillano’s wife’s father was a leader for my father. If they cheated there would be a landslide in Lanao del Norte and Iligan City, but I’m embarrassed President only got 10,000 votes and lost in Iligan City!
7:44 Rep, Acosta: makes a manifestation about oil spill.
7:46 Rep. Cayetano asks Rep. Datumanong if he will answer questions. Datumanong graciously yields. Cayetano begins with his usual prattling about the Bible. Repeats slogan, “GMA is afraid, won’t reply, has something to hide.” Asks Datumanong where complaints versus President should be lodged.
(educational exchange on impeachment process underlines how a president is immune from suit while in office; also, various stages leading to presentation of evidence)
Cayetano: Well, uh, I won’t debate on rules. But it’s not the defendant who will state when or when to present evidence. Drifts on to German account allegation: we could present evidence in impeachment court, but First Gentleman wants it in Germany! He can’t state where he’ll defend himself.
Datumanong: Well, but it’s the President who would be impeached, not her husband, and allegations about her husband’s money isn’t relevant-
Cayetano: I disagree. If an official’s assets don’t include what family members own, then the official’s liable, as law assumes undeclared wealth is ill-gotten wealth.
Datumanong: Property of members of the family of the President has to be established as also the property of the President. For example, the property of Rep. Arroyo cannot be considered the property of his mother, the President. So it has to be specifically stated, and its what the complaint lacked -there was no specification of charges and conclusions, no listing of act that would connect President-
Cayetano: But that’s not the practice. Properties in the name of spouses and children that official’s couldn’t explain how they were obtained -why, the President herself has suspended officials unable to explain those assets. (proceeds to list bank accounts and properties in Jose Pidal expose, linked to First Gentleman or his brother…) And same allegations we are making against President were made against Estrada, so why couldn’t same questions apply to President?
Datumanong: Committee found alleged property belong to First Gentleman were acquired before the President became president -under this present term- so under jurisprudence, acts under a previous term can’t be made impeachable grounds in present term. Let’s remember Estrada lost presidency not due to impeachment, but because of People Power…
(debate on these points….)
8:17 exchange tied to impeachment being alive (applause). Datumanong yields to Lagman, to tackle Cayetano’s assertion there’s a double standard in treatment of Estrada versus Arroyo, who is misdeclaring her assets.
Lagman and Cayetano debate over the allegations over the President’s not filing accurate statement of assets, when he claims the wording of accusation identical between two complaints.
Lagman: Innuendo! Lacking in substance! Generalizations!
Cayetano: So with Estrada, it was the same? Only innuendo?
(both get heated at this point; Cayetano says there are facts -reads from charges- enumerated clearly enough, and manages for the umpteenth time, to list President’s properties in the United States and at home: San Francisco, Daly City, Caloocan, Makati, and various corporations and Pidal account)
Lagman: He can quote all the properties he wants but he is the only one who believes it. With Estrada, what was required was 1/3 to support impeachment. You don’t have 1/3!
Cayetano: So that’s the only difference? Justice is justice.
(heated exchange over saying in Bicolano; hooting from audience)
Lagman: You can keep claiming justice. Problem is, you guys didn’t prepare your case. And you yourself asked for the rules you object to, to be approved.(crowd hoots; admonished by Speaker) You asked for rules! Why should you be more popish than the Pope? You had a year to ask for ruies to be amended. You did not. Natulog sa pansitan.
Cayetano: Amendment No. 6 gave Marcos dictatorial powers. German Constitution permitted Hitler to come to power. You don’t blame rules. My point is, with the same rules, it was interpreted in one way for Estrada, and other for Arroyo.
Colleage tries to make manifestation; Escudero objects; congressman says point of order -shush the gallery!
(heated dispute; Speaker tries to halt discussion)
Congressmen: This is an exercise of democracy between congressmen!
Speaker tries to intervene
Congressmen (screaming): This is a valid point of order!!!
Congressman: They’re booing! It’s disrespect to the institution!
Remulla: He’s complaining but there’s no statement of rule that’s been broken-
(editorial comment: personally, I am thoroughly in favor of commotions from gallery and hooting even among congressmen; specially since they want the parliamentary system and under the Westminster style of parliamentary debate, you get points for strategic jeering and hooting).
8:34 Mikey Arroyo interviewed on government TV: you know, I’m in committee. It said, committee said, it’s sufficient in form and insufficient in substance. Complaints are repetitious. The people aren’t stupid. They want to move on. The President has extended her hand in reconciliation. Let’s move together forward!
Announcer: Are you submitting written explanation of vote like the others?
Arroyo: My wife’s at home with my two beautiful children. I wanna go home. But my constituents are texting they want to hear me. So I dunno…
Announcer: How will you vote? (giggles)
Arroyo: (joins in on giggling) Well, I’m co-author of report!
8:49 Resumed, appeal to gallery to calm down.
Cayetano and Lagman debate whether charges are innuendo or not. Are ultimate facts evidentiary facts? But didn’t majority insist evidence comes later?
Cayetano: Since you won’t answer me, are you saying proponents of impeachment have no evidence?
Lagman: We are not looking for evidence at this point. Only ultimate facts, which are the things that are specified as assertions. Only sweeping generalizations have been made, not clear lists of things that are impeachable.You said you have seven boxes of evidence. Why didn’t you attach annexes as a sampling of evidence to support sufficiency of substance?
Cayetano: So you admit what your colleagues said, that we had no evidence, is false?
Lagman: We haven’t reached stage of evidence! You are trying to prematurely introduce evidence, against the rules you sponsored! If you’d accepted my rules, it would be possible. But nooo…
Cayetano: I remember the 10 Commandments… if you don’t follow them, it’s the fault of the Commandments? Why does he have amnesia? Antonino says there’s no evidence. He says no one said any such thing. Villafuerte said there’s no evidence. Yet he says no one says that. Why don’t you just admit we never reached the point of presenting evidence, but that the evidence is there? What innuendo? We have listed down all the pertinent, ultimate facts in the complaint. Look, photos of the buildings in America. Look at our reports on discrepancies in election returns, which we mentioned… These are ultimate facts which he says aren’t there. (Cayetnao starts listing provincial results, then how they changed by the time the results reached Congress…)
(more wrangling; I must say Cayetano holds his own in the face of Lagman’s insistence on his interpretation of jurisprudence; Cayetano argues that Lagman’s arguments aren’t completely appropriate: for example he conflates ultimate and evidentiary facts; also, the insistence of Lagman on annexes is not required, but only put forward by Supreme Court in cases when complaint itself is lacking in facts)
9:13 Villafuerte wants to join the fray… Cayetano scolds Villafuerte: “with every shout and insult you give me, here’s three balut, I love you.”
(crowd cheers as Villafuerte walks off with the balut)
Vallafuerte: I just hope the balut aren’t spoiled!
Cayetano: We make great balut in Pateros. They’re great for your knees.
(folksy disquisition on cards… President isn’t even a gambler, says Cayetano, she only likes it when the deck’s stacked in her favor… lengthy discussion on why Cayetano brought up alleged German bank account and why it’s relevant; if First Gentleman’s lawyer says there’s no such account, why did they refuse to sign waiver, if they have nothing? And why go to Germany if all it takes is an inquiry? I am ready to show evidence of German accounts and paper trail, if you vote yes to substance and approve looking at evidence…)
Villafuerte: I’m going to sit down.
Cayetano: Please eat the balut, it’s good for your knees… (explains how a waiver would result in closure).. So two things. Open the boxes, or sign a waiver.
Villafuerte: He’s confusing the issues. Are you making an accusation or not? Be honest. We’re straying from the issues! He makes accusations, but won’t admit it. What do you call it? Speculations? A guess? How will discussions on graft and corruption end when you start it? Why won’t you go to Germany? And besides, those accounts aren’t in the impeachment complaint!
9:34 (more wrangling, Villafuerte denounces suggestions the President’s a mass murderer).
9:48 Cayetano says the administration insists on using precedents for civil cases (such as decision of Supreme Court saying acts under a previous term aren’t chargeable in administrative matters), while Lagman’s said criminal procedure is to be followed. In that case, why does administration insist on civil procedure when it should be criminal procedure to be followed, as Lagman says, and in criminal procedure, an official can be charged for crimes under past terms? Cayetano also brings up precedents in impeachment effort against President Quirino.
9:59 Closes with statement on how crime pays, how soldiers formerly afraid to interfere in elections have been emboldened by the President, how clean officials are learning the official those who break the law are rewarded by the Palace. And a typical appeal for prayer, and fasting, etc.
Villafuerte: With that lengthy answer that was a non-answer, up to now he won’t reply if he is willing to go to Germany to prove his allegations!
10:00 Nograles: Let’s not repeat questions raised over past two hours.
Rep. Joel Villanueva: asks Datumanong if he will yield for some questions, and Datumanong agrees. Asks if it isn’t important to afford President an opportunity to answer questions on graft and corruption… Datumanong says, graft and corruption is indeed impeachable, but reminds him committee never reached stage of looking into allegations, because only insufficiency in form and substance was reached. Asks Datumanong to enumerate allegations, to make sure they were covered in report. Datumanong: allegations made in general terms, only, so too broad to decide if impeachable. Enumerates Fertilizer scam, controversial contracts, etc. and says they’re adequately described as a basis for impeachment, but they’re not enumerated in turn in the Committee Report, so how can they have been disposed of properly?
10:13 Datumanong: In reply to the long question, I will answer briefly. First, with Bolante’s appointment, it was not per se a graft and corruption act; in complaint there was no allegation he was appointed to commit graft and corruption for the President. All the Committee would gather from these accusations are conclusions of fact or law, but their nature does not qualify them as impeachable offenses. So that’s why Committee despite reading all the allegations, decided they didn’t constitute impeachable offenses. With respect to suggestion this report be rejected, there was an executive session to deliberate on this report and it’s contents. There were arguments. When motion was submitted to approve this report, it was approved unanimously, no opposition from minority, except reservation of the right to submit its own report.
Villanueva: Uh, OK. I was just surprised the report was drafted so fast… Uh, can I ask why the report seems to say that the President may have done some illegal acts but they weren’t intentional?
Datumanong: Uh, no, you didn’t understand the report. We simply explained what the Constitutional Commission defined as “culpable violation of the Constitution,” which is, that if an honest mistake in judgment or clearly intentional or out of an obviously perverse refusal to respect what’s commonly understood as beyond the pale.
Villanueva: Uh, OK.
(more questions from Villanueva, re: Estrada impeachment; Datumanong explains what Villanueva’s point probably was: the rules existed to make possible a “creeping impeachment” but no one could imagine how the rules would turn out; but in the end, 1/3 was reached and the articles of impeachment were sent to Senate…)
Villanueva: So uh, it’s a number’s game? So in 2000, if you hadn’t had numbers, wouldn’t you have been disappointed.
Datumanong: Well, obviously. But those are the rules and that’s the law.
Villaneuva: So uh, OK, there are uh, many holes in the law, so uh, there are lotsa double standards… We’re so sad…. And we even get punished by not getting our pork barrel. So well, uh, you’re saying that’s the only way to get at the evidence and the truth, uh, if you have the numbers, so President has power of impoundment, a kind of permanent veto on how we spend… We’re really so sad…
Datumanong: We should realize impeachment is a political proceeding. He might be right that whoever is in majority has an advantage. But the Constitution gives power for 1/3 to overturn majority for impeachment…
Villanueva: Um… Uh, OK. Ah, so it’s, kinda, um, you know, a railroad and a goose that’s cooked uh…. But in impeachment the people win! An honest president never has to fear impeachment… And uh… could be um, a model… But it’s numbers-numbers… So, well, it reminds me of jueteng. Numbers don’t make it right, the Germans favored the Nazis but it doesn’t make it right so, uh, there.
10:28 nograles: Bayan Muna… oh, wait, Roilo Golez is next.
Datumanong: Can Lagman fill in for me?
Golez: My pleasure to ask Lagman questions if he will allow it.
Lagman: With pleasure.
Golez: Before the report came out, how many hearings did Committee on Justice hold?
Lagman: 4 committee hearings and 1 executive meeting.
Golez: Hearings or meeting?
Lagman: I guess, not ordinary meeting, because Committee on Justice was sitting as impeachment committee, so, hearings, but whether hearings or meetings, 4 gatherings.
Golez: But here, it’s defined that hearings involve evidence.
Lagman: That’s a general definition. Impeachment has its own rules, and stages. First, form, second, substance, with neither, dismissal. Let’s not ah, ah, ah… refer to general definitions only. There are particular rules for the 13th Congress adopted from 11th Congress.
Golez: So we redefined things?
Lagman: No, it’s just there are definitions particularly appropriate to impeachment… based on the stages of the process… Hearings can be held for form nd substance as evidence is not necessary….
Golez: Thank you…. Thank you… Earlier we kept hearing about jurisprudence. Can we explain jurisprudence as past events relevant to a present event and its handling?
Lagman: This is a system where past cases can be looked at in law, to help in deciding new cases.
Golez: And also, precedents from abroad can be relevant as precedents?
Golez: I have questions concerning about Quirino impeachment case, as it’s relevant, since it involved the House and an impeachment against a president… And we keep hearing about the Pascual case, was he a president?
Lagman: He was a local official. We cite the case on the principle that an impeachment is applicable only to current, not prior acts.
Golez: OK so I will cite a case against a President, which seems more relevant as it involves a president while Pascual was not. In the case of the first charge, “wasting and misusing public funds,” involving 50,000 pesos to fix his house as Vice-President. The charge was accepted as committee! Does this not set the precedent that a President can be charged for something done in a previous term.
Lagman: The problem is, we are looking at a Supreme Court case…
Golez: But isn’t the most relevant case, that involving an actual past impeachment case against a President?
Lagman: The problem is, you are citing jurisprudence, and that involves the Supreme Court’s decisions. In the Quirino case, that’s a precedent, and we should remember Quirino was not impeached-
Golez: That may be so, but the process went through the Committee and reached voting in the House; so the House recognized the charge as appropriate, even if it disposed of the charges…
(tussle as Golez insist on yes or no, and Lagman angrily refuses)
Lagman: Every Congress adopts its own rules. We are circumscribed by rules of 13th Congress, and I am unaware of rules during Quirino’s time. Under present standards and rules, that cannot be allowed.
Golez: So you’re not aware.
Lagman: I’m not. All I know is he was not impeached.
Golez: Let me continue. The chairman of that committee in the Quirino case was Lorenzo Sumulong… and he asked the accused and accusers to file memoranda first…
Lagman: The rules could have been different… Under our present rules, that is not possible.,,,
Golez: We don’t need guesses… But he says he didn’t know case… So he is speculating… Maybe someone familiar with Quirino case should respond…
Lagman: He is asserting something. So it’s incumbent on him to show rules then are same as rules now. Let us know what he researched. I would say our rules are different now.
Golez: I am disappointed the majority didn’t research past impeachment cases. The Committee is bereft of good research… In Quirino case, Rep. Primicias, said propriety demands no member of the House should beg favors from the President or have conferences with him since we might be called upon to charge him… What are your views on this?
Lagman: If he said it, it’s a good prescription.
Golez: Good prescription, so those who don’t avoid the President aren’t following a good prescription… I see… Moving on… (reads additional charges against Quirino, including the President’s brother’s “aiding and abetting” graft and corruption) and each charge was discussed case-by-case. Was this done this time?
Lagman: Well, uh, I think… The minority reiterated the uh… various cause of actions….
Golez: There were 22 causes of action. Were they discussed one by one, as they did in Quirino case?
Lagman: It was incumbent on endorsers to do that. They were given ample opportunity to discuss point by point…
Golez: Seems you forget the majority voted against doing precisely this.
Lagman: Your motion at the time was to vote on each one by one; that was what was thrown out.
Golez: How could we vote on each if we didn’t discuss each? We’re not mudskippers. What happened was the majority decided to treat the complaints as a lump sum.
Lagman: No, what was voted on was whether to vote on each or vote on all…
Golez: That reminds me, why didn’t the Committee report include that decision, not to treat the charges one by one?
Lagman: Don’t blame us for not including that and imply we did it to hide things. It was reported and is in the transcript… Not everything that happened in the hearings can be put in the report, particularly procedural matters.
Golez: Was this report discussed page by page? Even in barangays, every resolution is thoroughly discussed.
10: 54 Lagman: No longer necessary -it’s not an ordinary committee report; and anyway, a committee report generally contains the majority decision. Anyway minority would never change its mind as to conclusion. Which is why minority has chance to submit its own dissenting opinion.
(wrangling on whether Committee had enough time to digest report before it was voted on; they seem like robots; Lagman objects they read it; more wrangling)
Golez: How long was this discussed prior to voting?
Lagman: I don’t know, but adequately.
Golez: I recall all of five minutes before voting.
Lagman: Don’t blame me! Unfair! I moved to approve the report ahead of it’s being read because anyway its a fait accompli!
Golez: Even in barangays people don’t vote on things sight unseen. If we hadn’t objected, this would have been approved sight unseen.(more wrangling on the question of approving reports in principle). Back to Quirino… at the time, a 3-day public hearing was spent to receive testimony and evidence. Did we do this? Was there a public hearing for both sides to provide evidence and testimony?
Lagman: It didn’t reach that stage because according to our rules… accepted by minority… I’m confident the rules were different in Quirino’s case….
Golez: I wish the majority had studied past impeachments.
Lagman: It’s not necessary because rules are different… Why is he hiding Quirino impeachment rules anyway? Maybe he doesn’t know…
Golez: Why should I help you? In UP we don’t help the other side in debates.
Lagman: The one who conceals a fact is presumed to be hiding a fact that will hurt him.
Golez: Like the way you keep the evidence in this impeachment hidden away? But look what the House did in Quirino, they called in all the relevant officials and testimony and evidence… That wasn’t done here. Did we call witnesses?
Lagman: I refuse to answer further questions on Quirino case, if he will not show me the rules on Quirino case.
Golez: This is unusual handling of cross-examination. The minimum required of a distinguished panel thatÃ‚Â kept lecturing us on how we supposedly mishandled the case. They ought to have studied past cases.
Lagman: If you’re a debater, if you’re arguing affirmative, you have to prove it; you asked, were rules different? I said maybe; but you won’t show me rules for us to see…
11:05 (discussion degenerates into throwing Latin maxims around… session suspended)
Government TV commentators have a new word for their coverage: “’round and round, everything keeps going round and round…” Feels like it’s the late 1970s again… Nograles, looking tired, tells government commentators how he wishes debates would end, because they want to go home. Insists no railroading is going on.
11:10 Session resumes but government station decides to interview Rep. Antonino instead. Shifting to ANC coverage…
Golez continues asking about Quirino case; Lagman says he won’t reply until he sees rules. Golez says he will talk about other presidents. Moves to Clinton impeachment case.
Golez: There were 11 possible grounds. Each discussed separately. Eventually, four were pursued. This shows cases, causes of action should be separately discussed. In Nixon case, there were three articles… points out one article was Nixon’s refusal to provide documents subpoenaed by House. May I ask what precedents were used by majority to justify that causes of actions should not be separately discussed but lumped together?
Lagman: Committee voted down voting on each cause of action, but we didn’t prohibit discussion of each…
Golez: That’s not the question. Why weren’t the causes of action discussed individually, one by one? Why were they all discussed together, with two hours given to discuss all 22 causes of action?
(text message received: voting will start at 1 am, majority already irritated and wants it over)
Lagman: I have the transcript here. August 15. Here’s motion he made. “this representation would like to move we vote individually on each cause of action…” So it was voting separately, not discussing separately, that was voted down… Minority discussed these causes of action separately. We shouldn’t debate this anymore.
Golez: We should. Before a vote, there is a debate on that issue… How can we vote on a cause of action without a discussion? …
Lagman: Discussing separately is different from voting separately….
(Golez emains stubborn… moves question on to American descriptions on impeachment, comparing the process to the Grand Jury system… and how they focus on reviewing evidence to decide if an indictment is called for… Lagman says no review took place; Golez interrupts him -Lagman bristles: there was no need because we didn’t reach that stage; more wrangling and it seems government announcers do have a point with their “’round and ’round” mantra…)
11:27 Lagman: This is what happens when a non-lawyer pretends to be a lawyer…
Golez: I resent that!
Lagman: So stop acting like a lawyer…
(more head-butting between the two on the rules, then on to question of what constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors”; Golez seems to make history by quoting a Wikipedia entry in a Congressional debate; more head-butting on definitions of “ultimate fact”; Golez should have quit while he was ahead)
11:34 Golez does make two good points: Quirino was charged with spending public funds on his residence as Vice-President, and Nixon was charged with Watergate even though it happened prior to Nixon’s 2nd term, and Lagman could only say precedents are irrelevant to the rules. Wonders why Lagman in his statements keep referring to death-related terms; wonders if it’s a Freudian slip. Lagman says it’s calling a spade a spade. Silly end to Q&A.
11:38 Nograles: it’s almost midnight. Can we make questions and answers shorter, please, so we don’t have to stay so long for the voting.
Butz Aquino: in case interpollation goes longer, can we consider voting on Monday? Specially since I don’t see warm bodies anymore?
(Yes! Yes! heard on camera)
Nograles: No, we’ll vote tonight. Things have been amply ventilated.
Aquino: At midnight I intend to make a motion to vote on Monday.
Speaker: Noted. Rep. Casino is next.
Casino and Datumanong Q&A. Casino observes Constitutional Commission aimed to make impeachment as simple a process as possible. Points out rules are brief, 3 pages. Criminal procedure only supplementary. Is he correct in assuming objective is as simple a process as possible? Datumanong says yes, it’s as simple as possible.
(ANC audio conks out; government station has given up and focuses on trotting out administration congressmen; ANC shifts cameras)
11:44 Casino emphasizes how impeachment is supposed to be easy and accessible to the public. Datumanong replies that that may be so in principle, but the present rules also include reference to rules on criminal procedure being applicable as practicable, so that, however liberal the procedure, it should favor the respondent (the accused). Casino responds that the procedures shouldn’t favor President since it’s an avenue for citizens to call high officials to account. Datumanong says well, criminal procedure has been made supplementary, and so its liberal interpretation must favor accused, and besides, it’s not People of the Philippines vs. the President. Casino underlines how rules then are meant to favor the President, despite her having resources and influence, at the expense of ordinary complainants who have no such advantages.
Datumanong: that’s not our fault, those are rules, it’s not whimsy on the part of Committee.
Casino: That explains many things about this report. Instead of following intention of Constitutional Commission, the rules have been designed to favor the respondent…
Casino: (further questions on whether human rights violations can be impeachable offenses)
Datumanong: to be impeachable, the acts committed must be specified.
Casino describes how Constitutional Commission tackled human rights: public trust violation, including “when there is a national failure of justice, evidenced by gross violations of human rights” proposed by Guingona, and accepted by the Commission.
Datumanong: You have to specify violations of human rights…
Casino: Under that framework, if President directly orders a murder, that would be impeachable.
Datumanong: You would have to specify it and prove she did so.
Casino: but also, according to Constitutional Commission, even if she didn’t directly order a murder, a national failure of justice would be grounds for impeachment.
Datumanong: But you would have to specify the acts that constitutes a national failure of justice.
Casino: But if we specify them, then it could be impeachable…
Datumanong: If specified, and if they are proven…
Casino: Assissinations? Mass arrests? They would have to be specified and alleged-
Datumanong: If they can be directly linked to the President….
(more questions in this vein; chiming keeps going on, perhaps to summon congressmen to return to the Session Hall in case Butz Aquino questions the quorum after Casino finishes)
12:02 Casino and Datumanong debate on definitions of facts, ultimate facts, etc. Casino wonders how over 600 slain civilians doesn’t represent a national failure of justice, and what else is needed short of bringing the corpses to the House… Datumanong says it needs to be proven better than the charges manage to do, that the President actually and personally should be held responsible for the actions of soldiers.
12:22 Casino concludes by pointing out Estrada wasn’t afraid to face charges but Arroyo is.
Etta Rosales makes a manifestation about ultimate facts.
12:35 Etta finishes her lecture. Bewails the absence of a sincere, thorough examination of things, instead of simply deciding along party lines.
Rep. Casino points out Rep. Crispin Beltran remains under detention and can’t vote or participate.
Speaker: Observation is well taken.
12:37 Rolex Suplico recounts impeachment chronology. Was there a technical working group for report?
Villafuerte: No, proposed committee report was prepared, Rep. Datumanong looked at it, consulted some, and then submitted it.
Suplico: May I know who were in the secretariat who made the preparations?
Datumanong: The secretariat was headed by Atty. Dave Amurin and acting secretary Boyet Alvarado, supported by 10 other staff members under my direction.
Suplico: At the entrance there’s a schedule for TWG’s. There was none. But I’ll leave it at that, that the Committee doesn’t seem to have done the preparation… Let me ask, did this report go though the committee on rules?
Villafuerte: Not necessary under impeachment procedures. But it was considered by committee on rules, unecessary as it may be.
Suplico: I’m holding book of rules… It says, report Committee on Rules will calendar reports in accordance with rules… I was in Committee on Rules, but it was not brought to our attention, yet I remember last year it was discussed. What happened?
Nograles: The Justice Committee report was given to Committee on Rules, and I, in consultation with Minority Floor Leader, was sent and approved in plenary…
12:44 Villafuerte: reads from rules. Explains process. Committee on Justice refers directly to House. Committee on Rules merely calendars report, but does not deliberate on it.
(more discussions on procedures, rules, etc and what are transitive verbs; Villafuerte impressive and sharp when he’s not bellowing; Suplico wonders wehy he didn’t get pork barrel while Liberals did; both gleefully take pot shots at Frank Drilon)
1:04 Love fest between Suolico and Villafuerte end.
Butz Aquino: manifestio in two items. On when impeachment starts, has gotten muddled by gobbledygook. On substance, two items to be done: there must be recital of facts or enumerating facts but now it’s interpreted differently as requiring ultimate facts…
1:07 Nagrales: last questions from Benigno Aquino III.
Noynoy: We inquired at start certain interpretations of rules. Do rules of House also apply during impeachment proceedings.
Datumanong: When he asked, the reply was that under the present rules, the rules of the House are no longer used in a supplement and instead, rules on criminal procedure. In the 12th Congress there was such an applicability, but not under current rules.
Noynoy: Rules are also silent in that no explicit statement exists rules of House do not apply to Committee on Justice. But in adopting present rules, seems clear intention to abandon rules… But if involves general rules of House might be useful.
Noynoy and Datumanong discuss legal precedents re: inhibition on the basis of perceived conflict of interest. Datumanong says the cases are there, based on the idea that if the rule was apoplied, a committee might end up lacking manpower to do its work…
1:35 Aquino ends. Rep. Escudero moves forward for manifestation.
Escudero: Reiterates the perpetual use of “ultimate acts: by the majorty when no rules state the need for the, Says the resort to rules, but when called on rules, appeal to jurisprudence. When that’s question, then back to the rules. The report is brief of defense for the President, only giving their sides. Points to how, when useful, the report says criminal procedure is to be followed; when challenged, the same is rebutted by appealing to rules of civil procedure. Denounces how a much flimsier complaint against Estrada was approved, including allegations were impeachable, but now, similar charges are not. Should what was permissible for consideraion in 2000, should be acceptable in 2004. Is not convinced by Pascual case, an administrative case based on a local official Its argument states an official who wins an election cannot be scrutinized as the election presumes to eliminate previous questions. Makes an observation that their elder majority colleagues kept yelling at them when they’d ask for answers.
1:43 Tackles human rights..
(am exhausted, will wrap up here).
6:00 Voting still taking place, but news accounts say 78 have already voted to dismiss. Just saw Rep. Teddy Locsin on government TV coverage vote to dismiss, saying the only resolution left is for the country to elect an opposition or administration House next year.
6:18 Mikey Arroyo explains his vote. Says he was asked to inhibit himself, but that would have been easy way out. Reassures everyone that he holds no ill-will for friends lambasting his mother. His vote is more than that of a dutiful son, and that he consulted his constituents and they asked him not to inhibit so they could be represented. He says he wishes to extend the hand of reconciliation. Votes to approve the Committee report.
(applauded and jeered; some others come forward to explain their votes)
Rep. Mila Magsaysay: Business is good. Investors coming in. Local and national government relations excellent. My constituents have barely noticed this impeachment. It’s more important for them to have money every day for their expenses and to save. Because of that, I vote to approve the Committee report.
6:28 I’ll end this brief return of coverage by saying for all its propaganda, only the government TV station did practically non-stop coverage of the House session, which is their job at such times.