'Playing' with impeachment may cause political crisis, warns analyst

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2017 10:10 AM

MANILA - A political analyst on Tuesday warned against "playing" with the impeachment process, which may result to a political crisis or even destabilization.

Institute for Political and Electoral Reform executive director Ramon Casiple said impeachment is no ordinary process and should be an option of last resort.

"By impression, people are playing with the impeachment process as if it's an ordinary process. They don't know the situation that it may cause a political crisis," he said.

Casiple made the comment after 16 lawmakers endorsed an impeachment complaint filed by the the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

In the complaint, Sereno is accused of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and graft for allegedly appointing Atty. Brenda Jay Mendoza as Philippine Mediation Center Office chief based solely on a memorandum, approval and giving of travel allowances to her staff for foreign travel without knowledge of the court en banc, and other offenses.

The analyst noted that after the impeachment trial of Corona, a lot of people have been trying to impeach high-ranking public officials as a "political-partisan maneuver."

"I think the politicians 'discovered' that impeachment is actually a political act. That's why there is the consideration of impeachment as part of their arsenal," he said.

Aside from Sereno, an impeachment complaint was also filed against Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista, who was accused of having hidden wealth by his estranged wife.

Before this, there were also attempts to impeach President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo. Both failed to get endorsement at the House of Representatives.

"I think they missed the point here. Impeachment actually, when you say it's political, it's not partisan politics alone. It concerns a political order," the analyst added.

For his part, Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro dismissed Casiple's claims as mere speculation, saying Corona's impeachment did not result to a political crisis.

"That is very speculative. Impeachment is a remedy provided for in the Constitution. It's an exercise of an obligation under the Constitution," he told ANC Headstart Tuesday.

The lawmaker, who is among those who endorsed the impeachment complaint against Sereno, said Congress has the exclusive authority to initiate an impeachment proceeding.

The VACC complaint against Sereno tackles Chief Justice's actions that were allegedly taken without the consent of the Supreme Court en banc.

This is the 2nd impeachment complaint endorsed against Sereno, after the complaint of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon was endorsed by 25 congressmen last week.

Gadon's complaint focuses on Sereno's Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs), which Gadon claimed were not truthful like the case of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Casiple, in his opinion, said the charges against Sereno can be resolved internally among the justices of the Supreme Court, without an impeachment process.