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An insult to kangaroos.

The House of Representatives insists on acting as prosecutor, judge, and executioner in the matter of the impeachment of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P.

A. Sereno.

Propitiously (or tragically), this is a case of first impression for the House. With no local precedents to guide them, they have seized on their liberty (or license) to interpret their constitutional power in a decidedly "independent" manner.

Translation: independent of rhyme or reason. The latest frontier for their innovative mindset is the matter of representation by counsel at the House impeachment hearings to determine probable cause.

US rule. We mentioned previously that this was a matter of first impression.

That is true only with respect to the Philippine experience. In the US, it was never an issue.

At the impeachment effort against sitting US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, the Republican subcommittee that tackled the preliminary inquiry recognized the right of Justice Douglas to be represented by counsel.

This episode was followed, in a matter of years, by the impeachment of Republican US President Richard M. Nixon whose right to counsel was also not denied him by the House.

There was reportedly an effort of the Democratic committee staff (including then Democratic party intern, Hillary Rodham) to deny President Nixon this fundamental right. The suggestion, however, upset a lot of the leading members of the House, including legendary Democratic Majority Leader Tip O'Neill.

President Nixon did not attend the inquiry but was represented by counsel. The US precedent, usually persuasive in this jurisdiction and followed by our own House of Representatives when clueless in so many of the other impeachment what-to-dos, has not been deferred to this time around.

House prerogative. The Constitution leaves up to the House the power to decide on how it will impeach an official.

How it decides to do it is entirely its own discretion. They can do their best.

But they might also do their worst. Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The hope remains that the committee on justice and the House chooses to interpret their power in a manner that is fair, objective and impartial.

After all, there is no question that they command more than the necessary number to impeach the Chief Justice. They can afford to not be sloppy.

But how is this accomplished if they deny the impeachable official the right to be represented to have counsel of his choice and expertise available to assist him? Fairness and completeness. This is one reason why even if the US House had a Democratic party majority, Republican President Nixon was given the assurance that his counsel could appear for him.

More knucklehead stuff. And now comes this proposal to even compel attendance of Justices by subpoena.

That is a whole new bag of worms. Specially with the committee alternately disregarding or invoking procedural rules depending on the situation.

Their singlemindedness of purpose may, in certain contexts, be admirable. Surely, society would benefit if their representatives are regularly this driven.

But they have been getting it from several quarters to walk softly lest they trample not just on constitutional rights but, more importantly, on the delicate equilibrium among the branches. In the Philippines, it is fast becoming a separation of powers between two co-equals only.

The third department seems to be rapidly occupying a less equal position. Should that happen, we are all impeached! For a moment there we almost believed their boast that this is the first time the House is seeing the entire process through after all the abbreviated experiences in the past.

All they have accomplished is to further reinforce the House's kangaroo court image. Its really enough to make marsupials cringe.

Thanksgiving. Buried underneath the avalanche of interesting news items this week was the final adoption of a policy that bodes well for our children and future generations.

Against the explicit and widely publicized recommendation of his Environment and Natural Resources Secretary and the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, our President decided, once and for all, to uphold the ban on open pit mining. He said it before.

He was against it. He meant it.

This reinforces the bona fides of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as conservationist and a gentleman who walks the talk. No further defacement of our verdant mountainsides and no more unsustainable pillaging of our mineral resources! Congratulations Madam Secretary Gina Lopez.

We enjoy the last laugh with you. Your brief moment clearly struck a chord not just with the people who have embraced your passion and advocacy but, most importantly, with the Man himself.

The Mining lobby has long been regarded as one of the more persuasive and resourceful in getting favorable policies passed. When the confirmation of Sec.

Lopez was scuttled, no one seriously expected that her legacy projects protecting the environment would outlast her. But they didn't account for a President's vaunted political will.

How are you related to.? It seems that all my life I have had to answer the question.

My father devoted almost 60 years of his life to public service at the highest levels of government. That is roughly equivalent to 80 percent of our modern history.

His life is an integral part of the Philippines' own history as an independent nation. I have always been proud to answer any question about my filiation.

This week, I found myself fielding questions with the same preface. How are you related to ? The relation in question, however, was no longer Senator Ernesto M.

Maceda. It has now become my elder brother, Emmanuel "Manny" Maceda.

Manny has been a frequent contributor to this Column with his views on developments on the international scene. Early this week, the Philippine STAR carried the Inside Track story of the election of a new global managing director by Bain and Company, one of the world's largest business consulting firms.

Bain elected Manny. My former bunkmate is now the first Asian to head the consultancy in its 44-year history.

Manny has always made me proud to be his brother. Today, he has made so many of his countrymen proud to be Filipinos.

Congratulations Manny Maceda! #ProudtobePinoy
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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Nov 24, 2017
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