What is an impeachable offense?

Atty Mel Sta. Ana writes:

“But for it to be a ground for impeachment, it must be “culpable”. Is culpable a technical term in law? It appears that it is not so, for it simply means “blameworthy”. It is an attribution that something was done or intentionally not done, which is wrongful. Culpability connotes seriousness which can be measured by the extent of what was done or not done, by the nature of the position of the infractor, and by the manner by which the act or non-act have been repeated. The violation bears upon the public official’s accountability, which is the heart of a decent, honest and good government. Extent indeed can determine intent, but at the same time it is not unsusceptible to justifications.

Caution therefore must be exercised in order to prevent an overly-legalistic interpretation creating undue elements, uncompromising conditionalities and requirements, of what probably should not be interpreted that strictly. Over-interpretation may lead to unjustified narrow legal applications rendering ineffective the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. It can lead the impeachment proceeding in a direction overly court-like with all its hindering-technicalities, and remove it from a process seeking to achieve a more significant policy statement beyond the guilt or non-guilt of the respondent. “

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.


Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.


Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.


  • baycas

    While the Constitution and Francisco vs. HOR enumerates six (6), it can be broken down to three (3), namely:

    1. The first four impeachable offenses,
    2. Other high crimes, or
    3. Betrayal of public trust.

    Gravity of No. 2 offense must be equated to No. 1 as the latter are high crimes. The word “other” is a dead giveaway.

    • baycas

      No. 3 is likened to “misdemeanors” in U.S.’s “High crimes and misdemeanors” simply because No. 3 will never amount to a high crime.

      Why was there a need to specify “betrayal of public trust” when it must just be included in No. 2? The comma separates them and the “or” distinguishes them!

      Besides, plain grammar will dictate that if it was considered a high crime it should have been included in No. 1 as the fifth impeachable offense!

      (N.B., This is based on interpretation of the plain language of the text and statutory construction involving particularly the rule against redundancy and the deliberations on the topic by the Constitutional Commissioners.)

      • baycas

        [The word “other” follows the ejusdem generis (of the same kind, class or nature) rule.]

    • baycas

      An impeachable offense cannot be determined by any private citizen even though he is a constitutionalist or even a framer of the Constitution.

      The Supreme Court strictly avoided its determination because it is NON-JUSTICIABLE. The enormous power of determining what an impeachable offense constitutes is vested on a political branch of government: The Legislature.

      An impeachable offense, therefore, depends on the composition of Congress (the like-minded members of each House) AND the exigencies of the time.

      It is alleged by the members of the HOR by way of initiating the impeachment process. An impeachable offense always exist in the Lower House.

      Final determination of it is done by the members of the Senate via the impeachment trial. An impeachable offense ceases to exist in the Upper House when its members vote an acquittal.

      • GabbyD

        agreed. ultimately, its the impeachment court that determines what an impeachment ground is. the house proposes, and the senate accepts or rejects. 

        thus, the senate really does have all the power here. 

        • baycas

          Yes, it goes without saying that there are inherent checks and balances that because of their existence* the Supreme Court is barred from meddling in non-judicial, POLITICAL questions**.

          —–
          *Especially the 1/3 requirement at the HOR and the 2/3 requirement at the Senate

          **Former Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales stressed the non-justiciable political questions in impeachments in Francisco vs. HOR 2003 and Gutierrez vs. HOR 2011

  • Anonymous

     “culpable”, like “rape”…  or “winning the lotto” or “decorated war hero”  or “hears the voice of the people” ….    subject to interpretation.

  • J_ag

    Like Big Al who forgot about how he spent his undeclared income this guy Corono has to be very careful how he now explains the alleged discrepancies in his declared assets and his income.  

    Any testimony he presents through his witnesses apart from himself can be subject of cross examination which could subject him to further inquiry.  In the old days one could buy a winning PCSO ticket. Mayor Lim won a lot of sweepstakes back in the day. 

    Getting loans from the in laws is another tried and tested story line. 

    Follow the money… 

    • baycas

      Another is money from abroad.