Bringing the Stalemate to an End

By Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer

...I am not sure how the public, nationwide, has received the Supreme Court ruling on the Neri case. The calls and text messages of ordinary citizens that I have heard on radio in the past few days have been quite alarming. They are filled with disgust, cynicism, and contempt. They had looked up to the highest magistrates of the land for a Solomonic and high-minded resolution of the stalemate. Yet the voting pattern of the justices in this case has only seemed to confirm their expectations about the political allegiances of the high court’s members.

What is the Senate to do under the circumstances? The Senate can resume its hearings and continue to gather information that may be useful not only to the crafting of new laws but also to the preparation of a new impeachment complaint against Ms Arroyo. The Supreme Court anticipates that the issue may eventually take this route, and so it has admonished the senators against prejudging a case in which they will eventually be the jury.

Or, the Senate can conclude the hearings and cause the filing of criminal complaints against certain individuals, including high government officials. There is an implied promise in the Court’s decision that the evidentiary requirements of criminal proceedings may be allowed to override executive privilege, and thus bring out information that is being blocked in the current Senate hearings.

The chances that any of these two options may prosper depend, of course, on the independence of the House of Representatives where the impeachment case will have to originate, and of the Ombudsman and the courts which will have to investigate and try the criminal cases. The public perception of the credibility of these institutions, at the moment, is understandably low. That is precisely why the public has turned to the Senate hearings for information that they did not think the Department of Justice, or the Ombudsman, or the lower courts cared to unearth.

It is therefore unlikely that the stalemate will have an easy resolution via existing judicial processes. And so the issue is unavoidably re-politicized. In this arena, the options are varied...

Click here to read full text.