Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco on the impeachment of CJ Corona

Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said “he would testify on the “railroading” of the impeachment process in the House, where the members were made to sign the 57-page impeachment complaint in two to three hours without having read the complaint and verifying the veracity of the eight allegations leveled against the Supreme Court chief justice.” This was his speech on Corona’s impeachment on December 11.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal and collective privilege that involves the integrity and independence of the House of Representatives.

Early morning of Sunday, 11 December 2011, I received word that there are moves to cause the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona. I dismissed it as mere gossip.

However, as the day went on, these rumors became louder. Worse, quite disturbing since rumor now has it that the entire impeachment process will be done in just one day.

Again, I set it aside, convinced that even assuming the rumor has a ring of truth to it, the integrity of the leadership of the House will not allow this.

Later, I received a text message that an all majority caucus would be conducted at 2:30pm on the 12th of December 2011.

Taking into account the rumors, I was hard-pressed to hope that the RH bill was what be discussed in that caucus and the not the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

But I could not convince myself, I had this gut feel that the agenda was the impeachment.

Reflecting on these rumors, I was psyching myself to blindly vote in favor of the impeachment, for 3 basic reasons:

1)I don’t want my constituents to suffer from the non release of my PDAF if my conscience dictates me not to vote for the impeachment.

2) It would be useless to vote “no” if ever that was what my conscience dictates, since the “Yes” votes will have the numbers anyway.

3) And more importantly. I am well aware of the vast powers of the President under our Constitution and laws. I do not want to catch the ire of the President. Especially, a President with a huge popularity rating. With the vast powers of the President, life can be miserable.

And yet, at the start of the Majority Caucus on the 12th of December 2011, without being given the chance to read the impeachment complaint, I was shocked to hear the opening statement of the leadership of the House at the All majority caucus:

1) That because of the alleged association of Chief Justice Corona, to his Patron, the former President GMA, he is the obstacle to the plans and good intentions of the President Pnoy;

That the only thing to do is to remove the Chief Justice;

2) That the Chairman of the Committee on Justice will explain the grounds for impeachment

3) That we were clearly given two choices: to sign or not to sign; In fairness, sabi naman nila yung gustong pumirma, pumirma na at yung ayaw pumirma ay huwag pumirma.

and the worst part of it all is

4) That it is non-debatable and no questions would be entertained; Sabi nga nila, kung gusto niyo magtanong, duon ninyo nalang kwestyonin sa floor.

I thought right then and there that we were just a rubber stamp Congress, a collegial body that just relinquished the integrity of its institution and its independence to a co-equal branch.

I was expecting the Speaker, as the leader of the House to protect the integrity of the House from effecting this railroad impeachment process, or considering the speed at which it was implemented, should I say, runway impeachment process?

How can you vote for the impeachment without having had the chance to even read the articles of impeachment much less verify the facts and merits of the case?

I cannot understand that speed at which the entire process was effected. Why the haste? In a matter of hours? Why cannot we give him due process, a basic right protected by no less than the fundamental law of the land?

Again, lest I be misunderstood, hanga ako sa ating Pangulo, na hinahangad ang matuwid na daan para sa bansa natin.

I know for a fact that the President himself is an example of one who follows the law of the land.

I saw him twice on the road. And despite it being a green light, I signalled his convoy to go ahead, the President convoy stayed put and stopped at the red light. He did this despite the danger to his security.

When I texted him about it, his reply was “if the Chief Executive can’t follow the rules, how can we expect others to do so”

Talagang napahanga ako.

This is a testament that the President does not want to abuse his power.

So it seems inconsistent that a President who follows basic traffic rules, would not want due process to be followed.
The President was a former Congressman. Do you think that if Pnoy were still a Congressman now, he would sign an impeachment if it were done in the same manner as it was done yesterday?

I am not defending the Chief Justice.

I have to give credit to the spin doctors, they have done a very good job in playing the GMA card. Ang PR dyan ay ang boto kay CJ or ang hindi bumoto para sa impeachment, ay kasama sa mga protektor ni GMA, dahil si CJ ay bata ni GMA at poprotektahan si GMA. Napakagaling nga ng PR na ito dahil ano nga naman ang laban ni GMA who is unpopular, kay Pinoy na napaka taas ng popularity.

Ang pinapalabas ay dahil bata ni GMA si CJ, damay si CJ sa unpopularity ni GMA.

For the record, I will not and cannot try to protect GMA. I have never been a GMA ally. I have been against GMA from her first day in office to her last day in office. I have been with Erap until his last day in Malacanang.

This is not about Pinoy vs GMA.

This is about the integrity and independence of the Supreme Court.

When the Supreme Court stated that President Eraps case as “Constructive Resignation.” I openly said “I did not agree, but I had no choice but to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court. Otherwise, I have no right to go to court if the time comes that I am aggrieved”

And so today, I rise to defend the integrity and independence of the House of Representatives. Sabi nila coming from the Executive Branch, I would find Congress boring. But on the contrary, I have come to love this place and to love my job. And I would do everything to defend this institution and its integrity.

Again, I do not want trouble with the most powerful man in the country. If the President wants GMA to be jailed for her alleged sins, I am one with him. But in pursing justice, it must be done in a manner that does not destroy our institutions and more importantly the co-equal status guaranteed by the Constitution.

Speaker Belmonte, I am honored and grateful for the Chairmanship of the Committed on Metro Manila Development. I believe you broke tradition, when you gave a Chairmanship to a neophyte like me. It also saddens me since I am good friends with your children. But this matter before us now transcends friendship.

Since in my opinion the leadership cannot protect the integrity and independence of this beloved institution, then I resign from the majority and relinquish all positions assigned to me. Effective immediately, I declare myself to be an independent member in accordance with the rules of the House.

Maraming Salamat po at Magandang hapon!