I vote to obey the Supreme Court TRO on the foreign currency deposits of the Chief Justice

U R G E N T !

13 February 2012

Senator Vicente Sotto III

Senate Majority Leader

By fax and by hand

Dear Senator Sotto:

This is to respectfully request you to relay the following message to our colleagues in caucus on Monday, February 13. Thank you.

My Vote:

I vote to obey the Supreme Court TRO on the foreign currency deposits of the Chief Justice, on the following grounds. These six grounds are based on the ideology that the impeachment court is not almighty, not absolute, not illimitable, and not more supreme than the Supreme Court.

First Ground:

Last Clear Chance Doctrine

Obedience to the TRO preserves governmental stability, while disobedience precipitates a constitutional crisis. If we have a choice between stability and crisis, the wiser choice is always national stability.

This solution is analogous to the legal doctrine of “last clear chance” in the law of torts. A tort, as distinguished from a crime, means a civil wrong, for which the remedy is damages. Under this doctrine, the most common example is an automobile collision. If plaintiff was negligent, nonetheless he will win over the defendant, if the defendant had the last opportunity to prevent the harm, but failed to use reasonable care to do so.

In the present impeachment case, it is the Senate which has the last clear chance to avoid a crisis, by obeying the TRO.

Second Ground:

Judicial Power Includes both Justiciable

Questions and Political Questions

Under the Constitution, the judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court. This judicial power has two components:

1. Justiciable questions, which the Court defines as “actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable;” and

2. Political questions, which the Constitution defines as “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

Thus, the “political question doctrine” no longer applies under the 1987 Constitution. Under this discarded doctrine, a court should refuse to decide an issue involving the exercise of discretionary power by the executive or legislative branch of government. Assuming that the power to issue subpoena concerning foreign currency deposits is discretionary with the impeachment court, still the Supreme Court has power over this political question.

Because the US Court has no provision similar to ours, American cases on impeachment and the political question doctrine do not apply in this country

Third Ground:

This Impeachment Court is not Authorized

to Violate the Law

The law on secrecy of foreign currency deposits describes this secrecy to be “absolute,” except ONLY AND ONLY WHEN the depositor consents. Congress made this law. The lawmakers should not be the lawbreakers. Instead, the lawmakers should, if necessary, amend the law.

Fourth Ground:

The Theory of Checks and Balances

Prohibits this Impeachment Court from

Claiming an Exception for Itself

Under the theory of checks and balances, each branch of government has the ability to counter the actions of any other branch, so that no single branch can control the entire government. The Constitution allows one branch to check the excesses or choices of another branch. Do we mean to say that this impeachment court is free of any check or balance? Then it becomes almighty! Under the Constitution, this impeachment court has no authority to study its own navel.

When the impeachment court obeys the Supreme Court TRO, this does not mean that one is superior over the other. It merely means that the Constitution is supreme over all branches and agencies of the government.

The Constitution provides that: “The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.” The phrase “sole power” means only that impeachment shall not be conducted by any other branch or agency. The phrase “to try and decide” means only that the Supreme Court cannot try or decide the impeachment case.

Some people seem to be confused that judicial review of impeachment procedures is equivalent to judicial determination of the outcome. But this does not mean that the Supreme Court has the power of judicial review over all constitutional questions. It only means that the SC cannot exercise full judicial review, but it retains the power of the most minimal judicial review. This is a result of the theory of checks and balances.

Fifth Ground:

Disobedience to the TRO Violates the

Defendant’s Human Rights

Separation of powers was conceived to protect individual rights. Judicial review is an integral part of separation of powers. Accordingly, minimum judicial review of the exercise of the impeachment power is observed, in order to ensure that no individual right is being violated. It has been said that the individual right at risk in an impeachment trial is a federal judge’s potential loss of position, including the independence he or she is guaranteed.

Sixth Ground:

In at Least Two Previous Cases,

The Supreme Court Ruled That It

Has Power of Judicial Review Over

Impeachment Cases.

The two cases are: Francisco v. Nagmamalasakit, 415 SCRA 44 (2003) and Gutierrez v. House of Representatives, 643 SCRA 198 (2011).

Francisco involved the filing of the second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. The Supreme Court ruled: “The Constitution did not leave the matter of impeachment to the sole discretion of Congress – it provided for certain well-defined limits or “judicially discoverable standards” for determining the validity of the exercise of such discretion, through the power of judicial review.”

Gutierrez concerned the impeachment of the Ombudsman by the House of Representatives. The Supreme Court ruled: “The Court finds it well within its power to determine whether public respondent committed a violation of the Constitution or gravely abused its discretion in the exercise of the functions and prerogatives that could translate as lack or excess of jurisdiction, which would force corrective measures from the Court.”

Sincerely yours,


Copy to:

Senate media

8 thoughts on “I vote to obey the Supreme Court TRO on the foreign currency deposits of the Chief Justice”

  1. i read those six reason’s…honestly..i was so impress..when i heard the news lately that you obey the Supreme Court TRO…at first i was too shock and of course wondered. WHY? is this brave Senator defending the CJ…but for what reason’s…? i had a lots of thinking and doubt…doubt on your honesty to the people…but now..i’d realized that you’re not defending the CJ but defending to the law… YES. though you are a suspected for an impeachment you also have to defend you’re rights and privacy.. i am comfortable now that this case will surely have the right decision..but im just hoping also that the rotten politics will keep OFF to this case… keep up the good job… and congratulation also for your successful bet to the ICC…

  2. Isa po akong OFW, kasalukuyan po nasa Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Madam Miriam, salamat po nito. Very concise and clear ang paliwanag n’yo po dito. Nawa’y maunawaan at intidihin ng mga gumawa at gumagawa ng batas. Malaking sampal ito sa mga mambabatas…

    Gumagalang po,

    Paul Pruel

  3. “The law on secrecy of foreign currency deposits describes this secrecy to be “absolute,” except ONLY AND ONLY WHEN the depositor consents. Congress made this law. The lawmakers should not be the lawbreakers. Instead, the lawmakers should, if necessary, amend the law.”
    I absolutely agree and I hope that others would be enlightened and take your statement in a positive perspective. I thank God for having a senator like you in the senate. May a lot more people in the government be also blessed with courage and wisdom like you. All the best. :-)

  4. More power Madame Senator! You have always had my vote. Will continue to support you and please do continue to uphold the rule of law.

  5. thanks mam for very clear statements for your vote on TRO i`m so much proud having a senadora there at the senate who truly possessed and filled of knowledge about the laws you are one of the pride of our country God bless you po i`m still praying for you, para sa mahabang buhay kailangan kailangan kayo sa mga trabahong ganyan more power to you!!!!

  6. i don’t…it only happens when there is an impeachment trial. what is the big deal? trust of investor? wah!

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