Senate stripped of impeachment court powers under federal charter


Posted at Jul 11 2018 11:57 AM

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MANILA -- The Senate will be stripped of its power to hear cases against impeachable officers under a draft federal constitution to avoid politicizing the process, a spokesman for the body that wrote the document said Wednesday.

A "Constitutional Court" composed of 9 judges will handle impeachment trials, with its members appointed by the President, the Supreme Court and Congress, said consultative committee spokesman Ding Generoso.

Lawmakers act as prosecutor and judge at the same time under the present Constitution, with the House of Representatives filing charges and the Senate acting as an impeachment court. 

"You now have three appointing authorities. There is not one single individual who will have influence over the courts," Generoso said.

Three officials have been impeached in recent history, the latest was Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was ousted by her colleagues in the Supreme Court in May even before her trial could start.

In 2012, the Senate impeachment court ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona. In January 2001, then President Joseph Estrada's impeachment trial was aborted after he was ousted in a military-backed popular revolt.

The federal Constitutional Court, which will have jurisdiction over questions of constitutionality, is just one of the 4 high tribunals in the proposed in the draft charter. 

The 3 others are the Federal Supreme Court, Federal Administrative Court, and the Federal Electoral Court.