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REMARKS

OF THE SPEAKER, NOVEMBER 10, 2003 THE SPEAKER: With the leave of the House and in response to the parliamentary inquiry of the distinguished Gentleman from La Union, Congressman Ortega, I wish to inform the Body that following the adjournment of the House on the eve of All Saints Day, until the reconvening of the House today, on Monday, we held a series of caucuses, firstly, with the Nationalist Peoples Coalition, in my Chamber upstairs, that is why I was not on the floor. I was present in the House but I was not on the floor, following an earlier caucus which I had with the members of the ruling Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats Party, followed and we were joined in the afternoon by the leaders and members of the opposition party, the LDP, we all converged in the Speakers room to see how we could thresh out this problem of transmittal. Because the emotions were so charged and because the various groups were militant and strong with their views, and there was apparent conflict between the one-third or slightly more than one-third who signed the Impeachment complaint and the two-thirds of the House of almost two-thirds of the House who did not sign the Impeachment Complaint, in order that we could gather the accumulated wisdom of these contending forces, I proposed at that time that we hold a caucus of all the political parties together, represented in this House, together with the Party- List groups, to make sure and to make certain that everybodys voice is heard, that no one is prejudiced, that no one is isolated, that their positions shall be properly ventilated under full transparency. So, at that time, my distinguished colleagues, we met the following day at the Edsa Shangrila, where the leaders of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition were present, the leaders of the Lakas, CMD were present, the leaders of the Liberal Party were present, the leaders of the LDP were ably represented, together with the Representatives of the Party-List groups. At that time, since we were in receipt of a decision of the Supreme Court that came out with a status quo order, which status quo order was presented by the Supreme Court a few hours after our adjournment on that day, and was addressed to the House of Representatives, as well as the Senate, and directing the Speaker of the House to respond within a few days, not later than November 2nd. I was frankly worried because we were all on vacation, and I have to gather the leaders of the various parties so that I can be instructed by the Representatives of the whole House on what courses of action we should take. After a lapse of almost five hours of highly charged debate, well, the pros and the antis presented their respective positions. It was decided firstly, that we will direct Atty. Palicte, the Chief Counsel of the House, to go to the Supreme Court, and under the guidance of Congressman Teodoro of the NPC, Congresswoman Clavel Martinez of the LAKAS, Congressman Rolex Suplico of LDP, Congressman Defensor of LAKAS, and Congressman Bautista, who is an eminent lawyer representing the Party List groups, they crafted the position of the House of Representatives, together with our own Chief Counsel. When that was done, I had to rush back to Manila from Pangasinan so that I could sign the manifestation of the House of Representatives questioning the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. That while we respected the action of the Supreme Court, and out of courtesy we have to respond, we did respond, and the

letters signed by your humble servant and by the Chief Counsel of the House were transmitted to the Supreme Court on that day of November 2nd. So, we discharged our duties. Technically speaking, certain advisers were advising me that we are now already under a TRO or we were already under a freeze order. I checked with the President of the Senate, Senate President Drilon, and he said, the hold order is the equivalent of a TRO against the House, and against the Senate. And he informed me that he would not appear in the Supreme Court because I told him I would not appear in the Supreme Court. But that we would dispatch our Chief Legal Counsel to represent the House. The second part of our agreement on that day, because you are entitled to know, the five political parties decided on that day that we should defend the political and territorial integrity of the House; and we should transmit the impeachment complaint. But upon motion of Congressman Abad, President of the Liberal Party, seconded by all the Liberals in that meeting, and seconded by the Part List Members of the House in that meeting, it was decided that we should transmit subject to the following conditions: Firstly, that unlike the previous session, we must make sure that we must have a quorum of the House, which the leadership in consultation with all of you achieved todaywe have a quorum of the House. As a matter of fact, an overwhelming presence of the Members of the House. Secondly, as part of the conditions of Congressman Abad, concurred in by everyone, that every Member of the House whether they signed or did not sign the impeachment complaintwhether you belong to the one-third who signed the complaint or you belong to the 2/3 that did not sign the impeachment complainteveryone must have a chance in this Chamberin this hallowed hallto rise today to explain his stand and everybody will be given a chance. As we seek the collective wisdom of the House, we insist, we request that each one should rise and present his view to the other Members of the House and to the Filipino people who are watching the decisions that we make today. In addition to that, Congressman Abad also suggested that while it is implicit and explicit in the Constitution that upon securing one-third of the votes of the House or rather the signatures of Members of the House, the same shall be forwarded to the Senate but he said, correctly so, in the Rules of the House, it must be made on motion in the House. In other words, a motion to transmit shall be made in the House; it is not ipso facto; it is now automatic; it may be ministerial but the Rule of the House says it must be made on motion. And as you know very well, my dear colleagues, that when a motion in this House is made, there are those who will object, there are those who may want to make amendments, there may be those who will take contrary positions. Nonetheless, because it sounded fair to all concerned, the five political parties approved the consensus reached and we are guided by that continuing consensus still today. However, there are two intervening actions that have happened since that historic afternoon. Firstly, President Arroyo, as President of the Philippines and President of all the people, in her desire to resolve this conflict between the

House of Representatives and the Supreme Court because of the overwhelming public opinion calling for an honorable solution and many calls to me that while I did not sign the impeachment complaint, I was being insulted, battered, buffeted by cartoons, editorials and radio and TV commentaries against my person even if I am not, I did not sign the impeachment complaint. And 300 Members coming from so-called NGOs stormed the gates of my village and they were only prevented from entering my house by the Makati police. Be that as it may, this is part of the risk of leadership in a democracy. I held my peace, Im in response to the call of the President for an honorable solution. I revived the earlier action of Congressman Andaya, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations and the distinguished Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Congressman Escudero, acting in concert with Congressman Gilbert Teodoro, who is the acknowledged head of the NPC in the House, whoCongressman Escudero and Congressman Andaya came to me in my office and said, Mr. Speaker, will you please use your diplomatic skills to avert this damaging confrontation between the House and the Supreme Court. I said, Do I have your authority, do I have your permission? They said, Yes. Do I haveam I authorized by the leadership of the NPC to make this move? Yes. So, I said, Let me call Chief Justice Davide if he is also interested that we engage in a peacemaking effort. So, I telephoned Chief Justice Davide, and he said, Yes, we would be interested in an honorable solution to this problem. And I said, Whom would you designate, Mr. Chief Justice, as your representative to meet with Members of the House? He said, I a going to request Justice Bellosillo who is the number two man in the Supreme Court to meet with you. I checked with Congressman Escudero, and he said, Yes, Justice Bellosillo is acceptable because he is considered to be a fair and just man. So that after that evening, I called up Senior Justice of the Supreme Court Justice Bellosillo. He was in Cebu, and he said, Yes, I will come to Manila on request of the Chief Justice, and I will meet with you and your colleagues. So we met at the Shangri-La Hotel in MakatiCongressman Escudero, representing the NPC, Congressman Nonoy Andaya representing the Lakas, and we said to Justice Bellosillo, Mr. Justice, we want the Supreme Court to recognize the power, the oversight power of Congress. We want the Supreme

Court to recognize the power of the purse of Congress. And we want the Supreme Court to recognize congressional access to the records of the Judiciary Development Fund. And he transmitted this to the Chief Justice. And we were under the impression that the same would be considered by the Supreme Court. We decided to meet again the following day, this time at the Manila Hotel, and this time, Justice Bellosillo returned with two more Justices of the Supreme Courtthe number two of the Supreme Court, the number three of the Supreme Court and the number four of the Supreme CourtJustice Puno and Justice Vitug. Again, we transmitted what we called the unnegotiable position of the House because like yourselves, I, too, wanted to protect the political and territorial integrity of the House. And so, it was decided that they would make a final transmittal to the Chief Justice. And we decided to meet once more the following day. The following day, the four points that I raised in that meeting were put in writing by Congressman Escudero and by Congressman Andaya to make sure that there is no misunderstanding, that there are no nuances that were not understood. And it was agreed that if this was acceptable, the Supreme Court, through the Chief Justice, which is meeting en banc would respond to the House on Monday. Apparently, as there are militants in this House, as there are militants in every group, there are also apparently militants in the Supreme Court. So the honorable solution that we sought could not be achieved and in the meantime there was a meeting in the House and we decided to give the peace process and the backchanneling an additional day. And so we waited another day because we were engaged in sincerity. We wanted to achieve mutual goodwill, we wanted to avoid the confrontation. But on the second day, in spite of efforts of Congressman Raul del Mar and Congresswoman Clavel Martinez both of whom are from Cebuin spite of the continuing efforts of Congressman Andaya it was my understanding that militants in the Supreme Court prevented the Chief Justice from responding to the House. So that was the situation and we were left with last week. In the meantime, President Arroyo, making a powerful appeal to each and every one of us for a dignified settlement of this crisis, proposed a covenant among the three departments of government. It will be a tripartite agreement and called for a truce. I remember saying to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as we were having dinner in Malacaang attended by Congressman Fuentebella, I said, we want a truce also, Mr. Chief Justice. But we want a truce among equals. I said, yes, we are interested in peace, we are interested in peace between the Supreme Court and the House. But I said, It must be a peace among the brave. That no one is supreme over the other. That we are equal under the Constitution. This I made very, very clear. Before the dinner was ended, President Arroyo presented us with a covenant. And in the covenant, to be signed by the President of the Philippines, to be signed by the Chief Justice and to be signed by yours trulyif you so authorize meall

the four points that we sought were included. Firstly, they recognized our power of the purse, they recognized our power of oversight, they recognized our power to impeach and they recognized our continuing access to the JDF records so that even if the impeachment complaint is withdrawn or deferred, the same shall be presented to the Committee on Justice for further investigation. So all the points that you and I sought, that all the parties sought, they are all enshrined and included and integrated in the covenant. When I saw that the President honored our request and included it in the covenant, when I saw that the Chief Justice was nodding based on the original covenant that was transmitted to us by the President, in our desire to accommodate the other forces in the House who signed the impeachment complaint, I sent copies of this covenant to Congressman Gilbert Teodoro, Congressman Chiz Escudero. I sent copies of this covenant to the other Members of the House for discussion. In the meantime, Congressman Jaraula, speaking in Cagayan de Oro, came out with a five-point formula on how to resolve this crisis which I felt was an outstanding proposal. However, day after day, night after night, we were waiting, waiting for approval from the NPC, approval from the Lakas. The LP responded and said they will support the covenant; the Lakas responded that they will support the covenant. However, we sill must contend with the one- third who are insistent on the transmittal of the impeachment complaint and therefore I could not sign the covenant much as I wanted to in order to restore the image of the House, the image of the Supreme Court, and the image of the executive on high political ground and on high moral ground. But since the covenant could not be advanced, which I was praying to God that we should support it in order that we can stop the Supreme Court from coming out with its decision today, we were informed that if we have the covenant, the Supreme Court will no longer come out with its decision to declare the impeachment complaint of the House as unconstitutional. I was pushing for the covenant so that there will be no need for any of the signatories to withdraw their signatures so that therefore everyones face will be intact and saved. No disgrace need befall any Member of the House who signed the covenant because this one is not an agreement between Members who signed and Members who did not sign but the covenant is among three institutions, the three great branches of governmentthe Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislative. My friends, because for some reason or another, we did not succeed and we must look to our own respective consciences to ask why we did not succeed. Today, we are in receipt of a 110-page decision of the Supreme Court declaring and this is what I feared, this is what impelled me and impelled the President to continue with the covenant so that our impeachment complaint will not be declared unconstitutional. This is why I humbled myself repeatedly to all, to each and everyone of you to support the covenant so that this situation that we face this afternoon will not come to pass. Now we are in receipt of this document, the decision of the Supreme Court by almost unanimous vote declaring the impeachment complaint unconstitutional.

It is my hope that now realizing the predicament that we are in, nonetheless, we should hear from each and every Member of the House to stand up and articulate his or her view on this transcendental historic issue that has divided our House and is beginning to divide our people. We hope to God that the military adventurers and the prophets of doom and disaster, those who are engaged in adding fuel to the fire in order to bring down as they sought to bring it down, two and a half months ago to bring down the government. We are in a situation where we either respect or defy the decision of the Supreme Court. It will come to that. Were in a situation whereby in the face of defiance the Supreme Court will ask the President of the Philippines to enforce its decision. Whose decision will the Armed Forces or the Philippine National Police follow? The decision of the House or of the decision of the Supreme Court. Were hoping, my dear colleagues, that this standoff will not come to that. Were hoping against hope that some enlightenment will descend upon each and everyone of us so that you and I can make the proper decision. I know how it feels, how it hurts. I know the tragedy that you feel in your hearts and in your minds as I feel it myself. But as the father of this house, I must not only think in terms of the one-third but also in terms of the two-thirds of the House who did not sign the impeachment complaint. It is also my duty to think in terms of the country because whatever we decide here today will have an effect on the nation and an effect on our people. This is my statement to the House in reply to the parliamentary inquiry of Congressman Ortega. Upon recognition by the Chair, Rep. Ronaldo B. Zamora asked whether the decision of the Supreme Court had been officially transmitted and received by the House of Representatives. THE SPEAKER: The dispositive portion of the decision was transmitted to us at noon and this 110-page decision of the Supreme Court was received by my office two hours ago. REP. ZAMORA: Mr. Speaker, the Speaker mentioned that this was upon the unanimous vote or near unanimous vote of the Supreme Court. May I know the vote, Mr. Speaker? THE SPEAKER: May I ask the Secretary General. I have had no time to read this page, these 110 pages. I am down with the flu but I am here doing my duty. May I ask you Thereafter, the Secretary General read the dispositive portion of the decision. Thereafter, Rep. Zamora asked whether the Speaker intends to file a motion for reconsideration or whether he would now agree with the decision of the Supreme Court. THE SPEAKER: I shall be guided by the will of the House, Your Honor. REP. ZAMORA: What does that exactly mean, Mr. Speaker?

THE SPEAKER: I will ask REP. ZAMORA: Does he intend to file a motion to reconsider or does he not? THE SPEAKER: I shall consult with the leaders of the House and the Members of the House and we shall make our collective judgment together by tomorrow. REP. ZAMORA: There is therefore a possibility, Mr. Speaker, that despite what the Speaker manifested in black and white, submitted to the Supreme Court in black and white, there is therefore the possibility that the Speaker intends to submit to the decision of the Supreme Court. Is that correct, Mr. Speaker? THE SPEAKER: The distinguished Gentleman from San Juan may have a point, but Your Honor will recall that when we met to instruct our Chief Legal Counsel to question the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and we did question the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, it was onlywe were only restrained at that time by a status quo order. Today, that situation still holdsthat we are still restrained by a status quo orderbut this time, with a sledge hammer. At the same time we have been told that our impeachment complaint, the impeachment complaint of more than one-third of the House is unconstitutional. It is no longer a simple hold order of the Supreme Court, Your Honor, but this time we have an overwhelming judgment-decision of the Supreme Court declaring the impeachment complaint unconstitutional. REP. ZAMORA: In short, the Speaker now agrees with the position of the Supreme Court, does he, Mr. Speaker? THE SPEAKER: Well, as I told you, my personal opinions do not matter at this time. I have to consult with the leaders of the House. If we are going to file a motion for reconsideration, I must consult with the leaders of the House because this is too big a burden on my shoulders alone. It is not fair to me to make this decision. I have to consult with you. On motion of Rep. Gonzales, the Chair suspended the session. Upon resumption of session, the Chair recognized Rep. Zamora (R.) Thereupon, Rep. Zamora inquired whether it was possible that a motion for reconsideration was not being considered because the House had continuously failed to recognize the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. THE SPEAKER: As of the last two weeks, the position that Your Honor mentioned was our position that we question the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. However, at that time, we were only restrained by a hold order of the Supreme Court. Today, we are under a decision of the Supreme Court which struck down the constitutionality of our impeachment complaint. I intend to ask each and every member of the House to explain his vote one way or the other so that we can hear from each and everyone.

Upon consultations with the leaders of the House, and before I go further, I wish to acknowledge the presence of so many members and leaders of civil society who are here today. I thank you for honoring the tranquility of the House, we thank you for respecting the serenity of the House proceedings REP. ZAMORA: Mr. Speaker, THE SPEAKER: In the same way that we honor you, we also ask you to honor and respect the Members of the House who are here today because you are indeed our honored guests. Now, to go back to the question, we are in receipt of a decision of the Supreme Court. REP. ANDAYA: Mr. Speaker, point of order, Mr. Speaker. THE SPEAKER: What is the Gentlemans point of order, Congressman Andaya? REP. ANDAYA: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Speaker is not allowed to engage or be engaged in debate by the Members of the House. I think the question being asked by the Honorable Zamora is: Will the House of Representatives respect the order of the Supreme Court? That is the question which begs to be answered at this point in time, Mr. Speaker. THE SPEAKER: The Chair is constrained to respect the decision of the Supreme Court. REP. ZAMORA: Mr. Speaker. REP. PLAZA: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker. REP. ZAMORA: Mr. Speaker. REP. PLAZA: Mr. Speaker. REP. ZAMORA: Mr. Speaker. REP. GONZALES: May I ask for a one-minute suspension, Mr. Speaker. REP. PLAZA: Mr. Speaker, parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker. THE SPEAKER: The session is suspended. It was 5:49 p.m.