An intrepid band of bloggers (and sundry interested citizens) filed a complaint for intervention seeking to include the thwarted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the charges in the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo.
The text of the complaint itself, and the events which transpired this morning during the filing are set forth in revealing detail in Manolo Quezon’s blog. I especially enjoyed reading about the discomfiture of the House Secretary-General, Marilyn Yap, in dealing with the “unprecedented” complaint.
The intervention move seeks to include among the grounds for impeachment GMA’s complicity in the aborted MOA which would have established a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity and effectively given away a significant chunk of the republic to the MILF. This can be viewed as treason. As pointed out in the complaint, the Supreme Court ruled on the unconstitutionality of the executive actions meant to conclude the agreement one day after the present impeachment complaint was filed in the house. The ruling by the High Court adds significant weight to the grounds for impeachment. And the intervention is timely as the original complaint has not yet been referred to the proper committee for evaluation.
From a quick reading of the document, the plea to intervene is grounded on principles of accountability of public officers and the constitutional right of the complainants-petitioners to petition the government, through their duly authorized representatives, for redress of grievances. On this ground alone it should be allowed.
Complainants likewise have a legal interest in the impeachment issue. As citizens, they have a vested right to ensure, by whatever lawful means, that the laws of the land are upheld and violators held accountable.
Neither will it delay the consideration of the original grounds for impeachment or impair the impeachment complaint itself since, as emphasized in the pleading, no referral to the proper committee has yet been done.
Personally, I see no legal, procedural or equitable grounds to dismiss the intervention outright.
The danger, as the intervenors are aware, is that the complaint-in-intervention would be considered as a separate suit involving a distinct cause of action and consequently dismissed on the basis of the constitutional restriction that only one impeachment complaint can be filed in a year. Wait for next year, the congressmen loyal to Malacanang will say. But precisely, the rationale behind allowing intervention is to submit all possible issues for proper consideration and thereby avoid repetition or multiplicity of suits.
Arroyo’s allies can also claim that the power to allow intervention is purely discretionary on the part of the House and may therefore be denied latecomers.
Finally, those who seek to protect the president can turn the whole matter into a drawn-out procedural debate which will then obscure the substantial grounds relied upon for intervention.
Hence, the eloquent entreaty addressed to our lawmakers in a letter signed by would-be intervenor Manolo Quezon:
…the President must be held accountable for setting back the peace process; and for placing ordinary citizens, Muslim and Christian alike, in Mindanao, in peril because of the recklessness and faithlessness, with which she conducted the negotiations for the agreement. She has done grevious harm to the prosperity and tranquility of Mindanao and the entire country and her doing so is a violation of public trust and her Constitutional responsibilities.
She betrayed the public, and all the parties that participated in the peace process in good faith and with a historic resolution of ancient grievances in mind. We believe that we have made a strong case for including the BJE-MOA among the charges against the President.
We believe that this is a matter of such seriousness as to require the House of Representatives providing the President with an opportunity to explain herself to you, our representatives, and through you, to an alarmed and outraged public.
We further believe that the President will find it impossible to satisfactorily explain herself and that as a consequence, the House will find it necessary to include our intervention among the impeachment charges.
May I respectfully invite you, then, to endorse our intervention, so that ample opportunity may be provided for the President of the Philippines to air her side, and for the public to be informed, through you, once and for all, about the circumstances surrounding the agreement.
I am confident that you will respond to the overwhelming clamor of the citizenry, throughout the country but particularly in Mindanao, for public policy to be conducted in good faith, without recklessness and imprudence, and with the true interests of the nation at heart and not just partisan political convenience for the administration.