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What is impeachment? Impeachment is a political process dealing with the misconduct of specific high-ranking public officials. Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban recently wrote that impeachment “belongs more to the people than to lawyers, more to public wisdom than to legalisms.” It is a power of Congress and part of the checks and balances of the legislative branch with the executive branch and the judicial branch, as well as other independent bodies of government. The House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment, while the Senate has the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding. The only penalties are censure or removal from office. However, once removed from office, the impeached officer can be prosecuted criminally through the regular courts. Who can be impeached? Only 31 public officials can be impeached. These are the: President Vice President 15 justices of the Supreme Court (including the Chief Justice) Ombudsman Members of the:
- Civil Service Commission (one Chairman, two Commissioners)
- Commission on Elections (one Chairman, six Commissioners)
- Commission on Audit (one Chairman, two Commissioners)
- Culpable violation of the Constitution
- Graft and Corruption
- Betrayal of public trust
- Other high crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and other laws
- Censure, which is basically a reprimand and allows the impeached official to stay in office; or
- Removal from public office, which includes disqualification to hold any other public office.
- partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration;
- failure to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN);
- his role in the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases, the appointment of his wife to a public office, and discussing pending cases in the SC with litigants;
- his role in the issuance of the “status quo ante” order against the House of Representatives in the case concerning the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez;
- his vote in the decision in favor of gerrymandering in the cases involving 16 newly-created cities, and the promotion of Dinagat Island into a province;
- improper creation of the SC ethics committee;
- granting a temporary restraining order in favor of former President Arroyo; and
- failure and refusal to account for the Judicial Development Fund and special allowance for the judiciary collections.
- Senate Rules of Procedures on Impeachment Trials
- House of Representatives Rules of Procedures in Impeachment Proceedings
- Gutierrez vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 193459, 15 February 2011.
- Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003.