For a Senator-Judge to sift through the conflicting and numerous points of view that have been brought forward by a good number of varied legal luminaries as well as ordinary citizens whose rights are indirectly but equally at stake in these proceedings, they must “un-clutter” their minds with the non-essentials of the case. This is a time to revert to the “basics” which is to determine guilt or innocence based on admissible evidence in relation to the articles of impeachment that conform to impeachable offenses; but in the process, upholding the rules and laws enshrined in our Constitution. The Constitution is the bedrock and foundation of our democratic form of government even if it is incapable of theatrics akin to the behavior of a lynch mob such as the one that is again beginning to rear its head.
The scenario of a “rule of mob” is more than just a “possibility” because it is assisted and encouraged by the President no less (let’s not beat around the bush), the majority of Representatives of Congress including some from the Upper House that are dressed as Senator-Judges but conduct themselves as prosecutors, and a media (the giant Lopez broadcast network and Inquirer in print) that has surrendered its’ “watchdog” role and impartiality to the whims and desires of PNoy himself. On the other hand, the rights of the individual clearly spelled out in the Bill of Rights, rights that are considered the most basic and important of rights of a citizen of the Philippines, can be no more dramatic than it is as stated in our Constitution. But when these rights are put to a test, there can be no second guessing or leeway for “liberality,” much less denial of these rights, even in this type of trial that has been repeatedly defined as Sui Generis and independent. Its’ uniqueness in no way exempts it from adhering strictly and uncompromisingly to the Bill of Rights as they apply to the respondent, who is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
And as to the role and duty of the Senators sitting as judges, the safest and surest way of performing that duty faithfully, as expected of them, is to stay steadfast to the oath that they are sworn to, that requires and binds them “to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws of the Philippines, so help me (them) God.” For Senator-Judges to veer away from that by simply stating that they will decide “in accordance with their conscience” or what the popular sentiment or public pulse is, sounds like a cop-out on what they have sworn to, if not outright breaking their sacred vow. In fact, “conscience” could easily be, God forbid, what they believe their daily horoscope compels them to do; while “public sentiment” could very well preclude the exercise of the rights of the respondent.
There is only one principle that a Senator-Judge must uphold throughout this trial and that is, to be faithful to the oath they were sworn to upon convening the Impeachment Court. At the end of it all, if the Senator-Judges cannot be trusted with their solemn oath, what then can we trust them with?