Impeachment and judicial review


Impeachment, described as "the most formidable weapon in the arsenal of democracy," was foreseen as creating divisions, partialities and enmities, or highlighting pre-existing factions with the greatest danger that "the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."Given their concededly political character, the precise role of the judiciary in impeachment cases is a matter of utmost importance to ensure the effective functioning of the separate branches while preserving the structure of checks and balance in our government. Moreover, in this jurisdiction, the acts of any branch or instrumentality of the government, including those traditionally entrusted to the political departments, are proper subjects of judicial review if tainted with grave abuse or arbitrariness.

Impeachment refers to the power of Congress to remove a public official for serious crimes or misconduct as provided in the Constitution. A mechanism designed to check abuse of power, impeachment has its roots in Athens and was adopted in the United States (US) through the influence of English common law on the Framers of the US Constitution.

Our own Constitution’s provisions on impeachment were adopted from the US Constitution. Petitioner was impeached through the mode provided under Art. XI, par. 4, Sec. 3, in a manner that he claims was accomplished with undue haste and under a complaint which is defective for lack of probable cause. Petitioner likewise assails the Senate in proceeding with the trial under the said complaint, and in the alleged partiality exhibited by some Senator-Judges who were apparently aiding the prosecution during the hearings. (Corona v. Senate. G.R. No. 200242. July 17, 2012)

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