Tuesday, August 08, 2006


CODAL calls on Members of Congress, whether from the majority or the opposition, who received funds from the GMA fertilizer project to inhibit themselves from the impeachment proceeding to ensure its credibility. Any hasty dismissal of the impeachment complaint without the inhibition by tainted members may void the entire proceedings. This scenario is analogous to the Galman-Aquino case where the Supreme Court allowed a re-trial despite the finality of a previous decision by a tribunal subsequently found to be biased. The inhibition of involved justice committee members who will decide on the fate of the impeachment complaint is analogous to the inhibition of a judge.

The inhibition of judges perceived to be biased is a regular due process mechanism in the Philippine legal system either in jurisprudence or the Rules of Court. Pres. Gloria Arroyo, through her justice secretary, has asked for the inhibition of judges who ruled against government cases. It is a tool to ensure that decisions are given respect and recognition, not only by the parties but by the public as well.

Inhibition is not only required under Sec.1 of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court but of the Code of Judicial Conduct which provides :

Rule 3.12 A judge should take no part in a proceeding where the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned…

(a) where the judge ..has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts

Canon 2 Rule 2.01 also requires that judges ‘should at all times promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary’. Members of the House must also ensure the integrity of the impeachment proceeding considering that at stake is the legitimacy of the government.

Since congressmen-beneficiaries have a stake in the issue, it is imperative upon them to desist from voting on the impeachment complaint, which contains the charge of misuse of public funds in the GMA fertilizer scam. The claim by the majority that they found nothing illegal in the use of the funds, despite findings by the Senate that the funds were channeled through fake NGOs and were used to buy overpriced fertilizer which were never received by the farmers, is of no moment. Findings of illegality is not a prerequisite for inhibition. A judge who is a relative up to the 6th degree of one of the parties in a case before him is required to inhibit, even if there is nothing illegal in having a relative. CODAL is concerned by the lack of decency by some congressmen who want to sit in the impeachment proceedings despite the fact that they have a stake in the outcome of the fertilizer fund case.

The inhibition issue must take precedent over other issues raised by Pres. Arroyo such as the motion to dismiss filed by third parties and the appeal on the 2004 impeachment currently pending before the Supreme Court. Congressmen-beneficiaries of the GMA fertilizer fund cannot vote on the dismissal of the impeachment complaint unless the inhibition issue has been dealt with on the merits.

Reference: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, Spokesperson
Date: August 8, 2006