Friday, August 26, 2005

'Benjamins' of the House

By Jose C. Sison
The Philippine Star 08/26/2005

The ongoing political drama (or comedy according to many others) happening in the House of Representatives impeachment proceedings somehow gives us a glimpse of our country's future – as clearly seen in the young, fresh faces who have been previously silent and preferred to stay in the background while the gristly veterans do their thing. Now they are starting to emerge from the shadow of their more experienced colleagues whose old brand of politics has given that Chamber a rather unwholesome reputation. It is indeed encouraging to see them speak up and make a firm and principled stand on the burning issues of the day.

The simplicity of their position and the purity oftheir intentions are easily noticeable. They are reassuring indications that the impeachment process will have a credible ending and that our country still has a bright and rosy future. I am sure there are still many of them in the lower house who will eventually speak out their still idealistic minds and make their presence felt.

These young legislators know that removal of a President is an extreme measure that should not be taken lightly as it has very grave political consequences on the nation and its government headed by an elected incumbent whose tenure has been precisely fixed by the Constitution for stability and permanence. Hence they acknowledge that it must be done in accordance with the "rule of law" or through the impeachment process. And for the "rule of law" to prevail, they realize that impeachment rules must be strictly enforced and carefully followed even if it takes time to do so.

Yet in their idealistic minds, they are also very much aware that upholding the "rule of law" means finding out or letting the truth come out of the impeachment process; that any proceeding resulting in a failure to determine the whole truth is never in accordance with the rule of law. Thus under the existing Constitutional scheme, they have correctly raised the point that the lower house's real function in the impeachment process is merely to determine whether or not to charge the President rather than to try and establish the truth or falsity of the charges which are the functions of the Senate; that when they impeach the president,they are not adjudging her as already guilty but precisely giving her the opportunity to prove her accusers wrong. For these reasons our young and idealistic legislators have started to speak out and voice their concerns on the apparent move of their more politically savvy colleagues to prevent process from reaching the Senate. They have seen through a scheme where their colleagues will use their superiority in numbers to cut short the impeachment proceedings through some hair-splitting technicalities. They believe that this move is not good for the President or beneficial to the country; that it will only plunge us deeper into a prolonged crisis and political bickering.

The veteran politicians in Congress should not ignore their young and idealistic colleagues. Pushing through with their scheme may even boomerang and alienate and drive these young and principled men and women away from their fold. Listening to these young people is listening to the voice of the nation's conscience. After all, they arethe hope of the motherland and also have a vital role in nation building.* * *

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