STATEMENT OF THE IBP
NO TO IMPEACHMENT DEFEND THE INSTITUTION
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the official organization of lawyers, expresses its grave concern over the breakneck impeachment of
the Chief Justice based on grounds that subvert the constitutional allocation of powers and prerogatives of the Supreme Court as the final
interpreter of the law and arbiter of judicial disputes as enshrined in the Constitution.
The impeachment has placed on trial not only the Chief Justice but the entire Supreme Court. The grounds invoked to impeach the Chief
Justice refer to collegial decisions of the Supreme Court involving interpretations of law in actual disputes elevated for review, particularly
a) The invalidation by the Supreme Court of the Executive Order
creating the Truth Commission;
b) The upholding by the Supreme Court of the laws enacted by
Congress and the Senate involving the creation of the province of
Dinagat Island, the conversion of 16 municipalities into cities, and
creation of a new congressional district in Camarines Sur;
c) The issuance by the Supreme Court of a status quo ante order in the
impeachment proceedings against former Ombudsman
d) The issuance by the Supreme Court of a Temporary Restraining
Order (TRO) against the Watchlist Order preventing the travel
abroad of the former President under a travel authority issued by
Congress for medical reasons.
In all of the cited cases, the record shows that the Chief Justice was not the ponente but merely concurred in the majority or minority opinion.
Neither did the Chief Justice flip‐flop or change his position in any of these cases. The decisions were reached by the Supreme Court pursuant
to its processes and subjected to reconsideration proceedings. They all involve interpretation of what the law is.
Even the two other grounds cited in the impeachment – failure to submit the SALN and account for the JDF and SAJ collections – also
involve the assertion by the Supreme Court of its fiscal autonomy. Pursuant to a 1992 SC Resolution, the Chief Justice and Associate Justices
are filing their SALN directly with the Clerk of Court ‐‐ and not with any other government unit‐‐ in keeping with its independent status. It has
also exercised its authority over the SAJ and JDF collections in keeping with its fiscal autonomy, which the Commission on Audit has not disallowed.
By impeaching the Chief Justice based on decisions issued by the Supreme Court now claimed to be unconstitutional, the House is in effect
arrogating unto itself the power to interpret the law over and above the Supreme Court. Such an impeachment has transformed the House of
Representatives as the higher interpreter of what the law is, a clear encroachment on the prerogatives exclusively vested by the Constitution
in the Supreme Court itself. If the exercise of judicial review by the Supreme Court to pass upon the acts of other departments of government and to interpret the
applicable laws could warrant congressional impeachment – despite the absence of any allegations of financial or illegal consideration ‐‐ then the
great constitutional doctrines of separation of powers and judicial supremacy on matters of interpretation of the law would completely
crumble and fall apart.
While we support the reform agenda of the President, its implementation must respect – and not subvert ‐‐ the constitutional
allocation of powers. Of the three branches of government, the judiciary is the weakest. It does not have the powerful sword of the President or the
awesome purse of Congress. Its only weapon is the passive power of judicial review.
If that constitutional weapon is despoiled, then its effectiveness as the protective mantle against potential excesses of power by the President and
Congress would be defanged and rendered inutile. If the Supreme Court is emasculated by partisan actions, to whom shall the people turn to against
excesses by those who are in power? The lessons of the past should be learned.
As sentinel of freedom and democracy, the IBP considers the breakneck and high ‐handed impeachment delivered by the House as a
menace and an open subversion of the constitutional prerogatives of the Supreme Court as the final interpreter of the law and the arbiter of rights.
Thus, the IBP, cognizant of its institutional mandates, calls upon the stakeholders and the pillars of the justice system to rally behind and
defend the Supreme Court as an institution of democracy and the Rule of Law.
ROAN I. LIBARIOS
National President & Chairman of the Board
DENIS B. HABAWEL OLIVIA V. JACOBA DOMINIC C.M. SOLIS
Governor for Northern Luzon Governor for Central Luzon Governor for Greater Manila
VICENTE M. JOYAS LEONOR L. GERONA-ROMEO MANUEL L. ENAGE, JR.
Governor for Southern Luzon Governor for Bicolandia Governor for Eastern Visayas
ERWIN M. FORTUNATO ISRAELITO P. TORREON FLORENDO B. OPAY
Governor for Western Visayas Governor for Eastern Mindanao Governor for Western Mindanao