Morality in the impeachment process


Am very much bothered by pronouncements made by the members and the chairman of the House Committee on Justice that they will abandon the impeachment proceeding against Justice Mariano del Castillo. The reason given was that the House could not handle the prosecution of the Corona impeachment and that of del Castillo at the same time. This is a lame excuse. To begin with, it is the constitutional duty of the committee to deal with all impeachment complaints and act as prosecutors for all impeachment proceedings. For the committee to abandon an otherwise meritorious impeachment complaint because they’re doing too much already is itself an abdication of a constitutional mandate. Worse, it may send the message that the impeachment of the Chief Justice Corona is not about justice, but as Gloria Arroyo and her cohorts have been saying, part only of a political vendetta. Why?

Del Castillo’s impeachment is all about morality. It is about what is right and what is wrong. It is good versus evil. It is wrong to steal, be it under the laws of God or the laws of men. Plagiarism, any which way you look at it, is thievery. It became robbery when Del Castillo’s ponencia even twisted the already plagiarized work of others to support the exact opposite of the thesis submitted by the plagiarized authors: that is, that victims of mass rape during World War II are entitled to the legal remedy of reparations. It may even be akin to genocide not only because the root word of “plagiarism” was derived from murder, but also because on its face value, the Del Castillo ponencia added insult to the injury of the victims when the decision declared that there was no non-derogable prohibition on rape as a war crime during World War II. Ergo, it may have been allowed. It even insinuated that rape committed against civilian populations was not even criminal during World War II.

 

It was precisely this kind of a ponencia that made the whole nation to think about the fitness of the justices of the High Court to sit where they do today. In the minds of many, why bother to have a Supreme Court when they are not able to give the victims of gross injustice, even the semblance of a legal remedy?

 

This will also explain why despite legal formalism which requires the people to accept the decisions of the high court as being final and executory, the people questioned the wisdom of the Supreme Court’s decisions on the Truth Commission and the temporary restraining order on the watch-list order against Mrs. Arroyo. These decisions, like the exoneration of Del Castillo for plagiarism and the court’s order to admonish the UP 37, were deemed to be contrary to morality and natural justice. It was the Del Castillo impeachment complaint that opened the public’s mind to the reality that while the court is referred to as “supreme”, its decisions need not be infallible. Without the Del Castillo impeachment complaint and the ensuing public debate surrounding it, it would have been impossible to rally the people around President Aquino today in damning an Arroyo court.

 

And lest we forget, Mrs. Arroyo and her cronies are now highlighting that Corona’s impeachment is all about political vendetta. The latest pronouncement is that the Corona impeachment was the President’s way of getting even with the court for awarding Hacienda Luisita to its farmer beneficiaries. Of course I don’t believe this. On the contrary, I have maintained that Corona should have been impeached on Day One of PNoy’s presidency. But pubic opinion is not what lawyers and professors believe. It is about what the average person in the street thinks. Abandon the Del Castillo impeachment and Juan de la Cruz will think that perhaps, Arroyo and her cohorts are correct—that the Corona impeachment is not about what is right or wrong. It is about decisions that proved to be painful to the powers that be. And yes, Rep. Arroyo still commands billions in resources sufficient to support a public relations campaign to portray the Corona impeachment as nothing but vendetta. Dismiss the Del Castillo complaint and you remove the moral dimension in the impeachment process. This is exactly what the Arroyo public relations machinery needs. Could it be that this is the real plan of those who want the earlier impeachment complaint to be dismissed?

 

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11 comments on “Morality in the impeachment process

  1. Rosario San Jose says:

    An impeachment is much needed, so that finally, the faith in the courts will be restored. Many of us have cases in the SC, some awaiting decision..we suffer sleepless nights, hoping fairness will prevail.
    In this impeachment, let us pray the same.
    Never mind lawyers who sow fear over a constitutional crisis, it speaks of poor training.

  2. ricky a. pollo says:

    same here sir harry. The press releases of congress relative to their failure or lack of resolve to prosecute the impeachment of del castillo, once again is a failure of the justice system. I am a victim of this del castillo. One of the issues in my petition, he ruled upon in one sentence. And yet on appeal to the Supreme Court in took the court 60 pages to resolve the petition. With Carpio, sereno, bersamin, abad, velasco, de castro dissenting, ruled that there is no right to priavay over e mail and in the computer in the workplace, citing Us. Ortega, and Us. Vs. simmons. And yet to my surprise theses cases were superseded by cases reversing such ruling. We should not stop though in our quest to rid the sc of these kinds. I notice however that del castillo, villarama and corona are of the same first division. del castillo and villarama are also division mates, i hope cell mates, in the court of appeals. The point being, they know each other very well, and thrive on camarederie to influence a particular decision, no matter how erroneous as it were, as borne out of evidence on record cases of the supreme COurt that has become controversial, a lot of them.

    • harryroque says:

      Whats the title of your case?

      • ricky a. pollo says:

        ricky a. pollo vs. karina david et. al. Villarama used the case of U.S. vs. Simmons and O.connor vs. Ortega where it was ruled that there is no right to privacy in the comuter in the workplace. All my letters were intruded into and i was dismissed. The sad thing Villarama did not study the case well as U.S. vs. Warshak ruled that there is privacy in the e-mail stored in the computer a 2010 case, whereas United States vs. Ziegler ruled that there is right to privacy in the computer in the workplace provided there was a Password. Imagine they ruled that O.M. 10 s. 2002 of Karina David is valid which provide that there is no right to priavacy except Karina David. Senior Commisioner Buenaflor referred to the case as a travesty of Justice. Its in G.R. 181881 Otober 19, 2011. I intend to file impeachement against villarama gor gross ignorance. They were using the 1887 US. Constitution when our own 1987 Constitution provides search of whatever nature and for any purpose is not allowed. Worst, my files are my letters , files of friends and my sisters, which they used as a case f grave misconduct. Whew an ignorant supreme COurt.

      • ricky a. pollo says:

        Hon. RENATO CORONA
        Chief Justice
        Supreme Court of the Philippines
        Taft Avenue, Manila

        Dear Chief Justice:

        Undersigned is a lowly employee of the Civil Service Commission dismissed from the service because he has letters and files stored in the Computer, which were the subject of Gestapo like search by Chairman Karina David thru Office Memorandum 10, s. 2002.

        In G.R. No. 181881, this Court affirmed the validity of O. M. 10, which provides that there is no expectancy of privacy in the computer in the Civil Service Commission except Karina David. The Court cited reasonable test without explaining what is the basis of the reasonable test. The court cited the balancing of interest test without even knowing when it is applicable.

        More importantly, the Court cited as authority the case of O’ Connor vs. Ortega of 1997 and United States vs. Simmons of 2000, where it was held that there was no right of expectancy of privacy in the computer in the workplace.

        I am also a law graduate. I have not learned however in law school the disquisition made in my case which was seriously erroneous if not revolting to senses and conscience. For a better perception of reasonable test and the balancing of interest test, leading American law journal provides an in depth discussion on when it is applicable.

        In fact the American Supreme Court frowns on test on reasonableness for being subjective that undermines the fourth amendment. The test of balancing of interest is applicable in criminal or civil searches and based on probable and emergency doctrines as discussed in the California Review Journal, University of Princeton Law review Journal and the Ohio State Law Review Journal. It does not apply to the letters and files of Petitioner subject of the search by David.

        What is disconcerting and a travesty is the used by the Court of O’ Connor vs. Ortega and U. S. vs. Simmons, which appears to have been superseded by recent American jurisprudence of United States vs. Ziegler dated January 30, 2007 and United States vs. Warshak dated December 17, 2010.

        In United States vs. Ziegler, it was held:

        “Ziegler’s sole contention on appeal is that the January 30, 2001, entry into his private office to search his workplace computer violated the Fourth Amendment and, as such, the evidence contained on the computer’s hard drive must be suppressed.

        A

        Ziegler argues that “[t]he district court erred in its finding that Ziegler did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in his office and computer.” He likens the workplace computer to the desk drawer or file cabinet given Fourth Amendment protection in cases such as O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987). Ziegler further contends that the Fourth Circuit’s Simons case is inapposite. Whereas in Simons “the person conducting the search was a network administrator whose purpose was to search for evidence of employee misconduct,” in this case “the search was conducted at the behest of Agent Kennedy who was undeniably seeking evidence of a crime.”

        As we know, the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967). Although it is often true that “for most people, their computers are their most private spaces,” United States v. Gourde, 440 F.3d 1065, 1077 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc) (Kleinfeld, J., dissenting), the validity of that expectation depends entirely on its context. Cf. Ortega, 480 U.S. at 715 (“We have no talisman that determines in all cases those privacy expectations that society is prepared to accept as reasonable.”).

        [3] The government does not contest Ziegler’s claim that he had a subjective expectation of privacy in his office and the computer. The use of a password on his computer and the lock on his private office door are sufficient evidence of such expectation. See United States v. Bailey, 272 F. Supp. 2d 822, 835 (D. Neb. 2003) (citation omitted).

        2

        [7] Because Ziegler had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his office, any search of that space and the items located therein must comply with the Fourth Amendment.

        III
        While the two Frontline employees may not have scoured the desk drawers and cabinets for evidence, as the agents did in Mancusi, 392 U.S. at 365, they undoubtedly “searched” Ziegler’s office when they entered to make a copy of the hard drive of his computer. See 1 WAYNE R. LAFAVE, SEARCH AND SEIZURE: A TREATISE ON THE FOURTH AMENDMENT, § 2.1(a) (4th ed. 2004) (“Under the traditional approach, the term ‘search’ is said to imply some exploratory investigation, or an invasion and quest, a looking for or seeking out.”) (internal quotation omitted). The employees obtained a key in order to unlock the office, entered the office, copied Ziegler’s hard drive, and left.

        In United States vs. Warshak dated December 17, 2010, it was held:

        3. The Fourth Amendment

        The Fourth Amendment provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause . . . .” U.S. CONST.

        The fundamental purpose of the Fourth Amendment “is to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary invasions by government officials.” Camara v. Mun. Ct., 387 U.S. 523, 528 (1967); see Skinner v. Ry. Labor Execs.’Ass’n, 489 U.S. 602, 613-14 (1989)

        [T]he tenor and content of e-mail conversations between appellant and his correspondent, Launchboy,’ reveal a[n] expectation that the conversations were private.”).

        Therefore, we conclude that Warshak had a subjective expectation of privacy in the contents of his emails. The next question is whether society is prepared to recognize that expectation as reasonable. [See Smith, 442 U.S. at 740.] This question is one of grave import and enduring consequence, given the prominent role that email has assumed in modern communication. Cf. Katz, 389 U.S. at 352 (suggesting that the Constitution must be read to account for “the vital role that the public telephone has come to play in private communication”). Since the advent of email, the telephone call and the letter have waned in importance, and an explosion of Internet-based communication has taken place. People are now able to send sensitive and intimate information, instantaneously, to friends, family, and colleagues half a world away. Lovers exchange sweet nothings and businessmen swap ambitious plans, all with the click of a mouse button. Commerce has also taken hold in email. Online purchases are often documented in email accounts, and email is frequently used to remind patients and clients of imminent appointments.

        Second, the Fourth Amendment must keep pace with the inexorable march of technological progress, or its guarantees will wither and perish. [See Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 34 (2001)] (noting that evolving technology must not be permitted to “erode the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment”); see also Orin S. Kerr, Applying the Fourth Amendment to the Internet: A General Approach, 62 Stan. L. Rev. 1005, 1007 (2010) (arguing that “the differences between the facts of physical space and the facts of the Internet require courts to identify new Fourth Amendment distinctions to maintain the function of Fourth Amendment rules in an on line environment”).

        Letters receive similar protection. See Jacobsen, 466 U.S. at 114 (“Letters and other sealed packages are in the general class of effects in which the public at large has a legitimate expectation of privacy[.]”); Ex Parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727, 733 (1877).

        It follows that email requires strong protection under the Fourth Amendment; otherwise, the Fourth Amendment would prove an ineffective guardian of private communication, an essential purpose it has long been recognized to serve. [See U.S. Dist. Court, 407 U.S. at 313; United States v. Waller, 581 F.2d 585, 587 (6th Cir. 1978) (noting the Fourth Amendment’s role in protecting “private communications”).]

        As some forms of communication begin to diminish, the Fourth Amendment must recognize and protect nascent ones that arise. [See Warshak I, 490 F.3d at 473 (“It goes without saying that like the telephone earlier in our history, e-mail is an ever-increasing mode of private communication, and protecting shared communications through this medium is as important to Fourth Amendment principles today as protecting telephone conversations has been in the past.”).

        Our conclusion finds additional support in the application of Fourth Amendment doctrine to rented space. Hotel guests, for example, have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their rooms. See United States v. Allen, 106 F.3d 695, 699 (6th Cir. 1997).

        Accordingly, we hold that a subscriber enjoys a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of emails “that are stored with, or sent or received through, a commercial ISP.” Warshak I, 490 F.3d at 473; see Forrester, 512 F.3d at 511 (suggesting that “[t]he contents [of email messages] may deserve Fourth Amendment protection”). The government may not compel a commercial ISP to turn over the contents of a subscriber’s emails without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause. Therefore, because they did not obtain a warrant, the government agents violated the Fourth Amendment when they obtained the contents of Warshak’s emails.

        An ordinary student of law will readily understand that both cases of Warshak and Ziegler are the citation applicable in this case of Petitioner which was obviously overlooked by the researchers of Justice Villarama.

        It is sad that the Court takes four years to resolve a Petition; it is revolting when the Court misapplies obsolete citations as authority to support a conviction. What’s happening to our justice system? Most of all, the Petition was dismissed by Atty. Luisa Villarama on the ground of lack of affidavit of service and Explanation of Service attached to Motion for Extension. Upon personal verification, it was found out in the presence of Rollo head that the purported lack of requirements were actually attached on record. The checklist was complete, with Manifestation of compliance. The Petition proper was filed within the prescriptive period, with or without the Motion for Extension. The matter was brought to the attention of CJ Puno, but lo and behold even the letter went missing per personal verification.

        Now comes, Justice Villarama citing U.S. vs. Simmons of 2000 and O’Connor vs. Ortega of 1997, which refers to lewd pictures in the computer. These cases were superseded by U.S. vs. Warshak dated December 17, 2010, which states that there is privacy over e-mails as the ruling of Justice Bersamin. Also applicable is United States vs. Ziegler dated January 30, 2007 which exactly similar to the case of Petitioner, where it was held that there is privacy in the computer in the workplace provided the used of password and key to the Office.

        The ruling of Villarama however stated that there was no password used which was contrary to the evidence on record. Our lives are at stake here, and yet we point to researchers doing the error. We hope that the justices also study their cases. Imagine the ruling, that there is no privacy on the files stored in the computer, which was contrary to Warshak vs. U.S. which sustained the opposite and the correct. As held in Katz vs. U.S. fourth amendment protects the person not the government, or the place. For four years, I waited, only to be given a wrong decision with deliberately wrong citations. Who should correct my life now? Please read carefully the opinion of J. Bersamin as concurred by J. Abad, J. Velasco, J. Sereno, which is attuned to U.S. vs. Warshak. Also, the view of J. Carpio as shared by J. De. Castro.

        With due respect, the Court must study the case very well as the life of the people and their future are at stake. If I don’t have a right to privacy, and so are the members of the Judiciary. But it is not the case, as Balancing of Interest was applied which is not applicable, as the letter itself has objective expectancy of privacy for the Petitioner.

        Please read the following: 1.) Greenberg, The Balance of Interests Theory and the Fourth Amendment: A Selective Analysis of Court Action since Camara and To See, 61 CALIF. L.R. 1011, 1012: 2.) Salken, Balancing Exigency and Privacy in Warrantless Searches to Prevent Destruction of Evidence: The Need For a Rule, 39′ Has L.J. 283 (1988):3.) Sundby, A Return to Fourth Amendment Basics: Undoing the Mischief of Camara and Terry, supra; see generally Amsterdam, Perspectives on the Fourth Amendment, and 58 MINN. L. REv. 349,393-94 (1974); United States vs. Warshak dated December 17, 2010 and United States vs. Ziegler dated January 30, 2007, which were way after Ortega and Simmons cases.

        Kindly review again my Motion for Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration anchored on this new basis.

        Very truly yours,

        RICKY A. POLLO
        Petitioner in G.R. No. 181881
        Lot 4, Block 8, Colayco st., Woodsite 3 Subdivision, Imus,
        Cavite

    • ricky a. pollo says:

      This is not an attack on he supreme court but a preservation of once honored institution. These people villarama, del castillo et. all have dobious backgraounds. In fact, i question the appointment of del castillo which was nly noted by CJ Puno. If it were reviewed we would not have to suffer from the ignorance and foul play of del castillo.

  3. anthony h. liobet says:

    I am always excited reading your blog. I find it so helpful for me as I study law. I’m on my second year…

    Your thought on the case above, i believed never crossed on their minds… if so it has no foundation of what is right and wrong.

    Thank you for this insights.

  4. Butch Ramiro says:

    Hi Mr. Pollo, I’m Roberto Ramiro, currently taking up law at Ateneo. I recently wrote a thesis specifically on your case, and I advocated a right to privacy on the part of government employees like you. You can contact me if you want to take a look at my thesis. Maybe it can help you. You’re right, government employees have a right to privacy and also, the SC was incorrect in completely adopting Katz, O’Connor and Simmons. I wish I was able to contact you before I defended this thesis. Thank you!

  5. Rolly E. says:

    I just read all of this and It’s sad for me that my Best Man in my wedding will be in this situation. Ricky Pollo is my friend and neighbor since we’re young and I knew him personally. Ricky is a good man with good principles in life, and he is came from a dignified family, his father a Lawyer and his mother is a School Principa, Eldest PMA’s brother which I believed is a active Colonel ranks, with BSCE/EE brother and graduate sisters from Saint Paul College Manila. Like I said, I knew him very much and almost everyday we been together after our school. We been separated when I finished my BS Civil Engineering and I was assigned in different places and country. I really missed my friend and we never talke to each other for more than 20 yrs. now, I hope Atty. Roque could help my friend and re-install his dignity as well as his position in the government..

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