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Whether or not the

decisions of the
Senate on
impeachment case is
a justiciable question
SUBMITTED BY: RIFFY MAE ANN D. GARADOS
JURIS DOCTOR-4A
BULACAN STATE UNIVERSITY-COLLEGE OF
LAW
POLITICAL LAW

POLITICAL QUESTIONS OR JUSTICIABLE QUESTIONS

As provided in the case of Corona vs. Senate of the Philippines, 676 SCRA 563,
”Impeachment refers to the power of Congress to remove a public official for
serious crimes or misconduct as provided in the Constitution”.

However, we need to clarify first the distinctions of Political Questions and


Justiciable Questions. In the leading case of Tanada v. Cuenco, Chief Justice
Roberto Concepcion defined the term "political question," connotes, in legal
parlance, what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a question of policy. In
other words, in the language of Corpus Juris Secundum, it refers to "those
questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in
their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has
been delegated to the Legislature or executive branch of the Government." It is
concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular
measure. While in Casibang v. Aquino “justiciable question” is a purely
justiciable issue implies a given right, legally demandable and enforceable, an
act or omission violative of such right, and a remedy granted and sanctioned by
law, for said breach of right.

Impeachment in the Philippines is an expressed power of the Congress of the


Philippines. 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.

The Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, has the sole power to try and
decide all cases of impeachment.

In the case of Francisco vs. House of Representatives, one of the separate and
concurring opinion was laid down by Sandoval Gutierrez, that the instant
petition at bar present a conflict between Sections 16 and 17 of the Rules of
Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings, promulgated by the present Congress
of the Philippines, and Section 3(5), Article XI of the Constitution. Obviously,
this is a justiciable issue.

As a proceeding, impeachment might be so described thusly First, it is legal


and political in nature and, second, it is sui generis neither a criminal or
administrative proceeding, but partaking a hybrid characteristic of both and
retaining the requirement of due process basic to all proceedings. Its political
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POLITICAL LAW

nature is apparent from its function as being a constitutional measure


designed to protect the State from official delinquencies and malfeasance, the
punishment of the offender being merely incidental. Although impeachment is
intended to be non-partisan, the power to impeach is nevertheless lodged in
the House of Representatives, whose members are highly responsive to political
and partisan influences. The trial by the Senate is thought to reduce the
likelihood of an impeachment case being decided solely along political lines.
With its character of being part criminal and part administrative, carrying the
punitive sanction not only of removal and disqualification from office but
likewise the stigmatization of the offender, an impeachment proceeding does
not exactly do away with basic evidentiary rules and rudimentary due process
requirements of notice and hearing.

In our jurisdiction, the determination of a truly political question from a non-


justiciable political question lies in the answer to the question of whether there
are constitutionally imposed limits on powers or functions conferred upon
political bodies. If there are, then our courts are duty-bound to examine
whether the branch or instrumentality of the government properly acted within
such limits.

Therefore, the judgment of the Senate is a political decision which may not be
reviewed by the courts.

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