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Published: 08:00 AM, September 28, 2017

Updated: 09:15 AM, September 28, 2017

The Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI)

Advocating much-needed reforms in the Philippine justice system particularly as they impact the business sector, the Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI), a private sector umbrella group established by leading business organizations, judicial advocacy groups, and a number of foreign chambers in the country, views with grave concern the growing use – or threat – of impeachment proceedings in Congress against a number of the Philippines' highest ranking and prominent government leaders, including the President, the Vice President, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, and the Ombudsman.   

 

JRI believes that the impeachment powers of Congress—as provided in our Constitution—must be exercised with great prudence, probity and transparency. Serious actions such as the one filed against the Chief Magistrate of the land and threats against other impeachable officials will be scrutinized closely here and abroad, as any serious indictment of our justice system could weaken the Constitutionally-protected independence of the judiciary.

 

Investors would risk capital only in countries where they have full confidence in the rule of law.  Thus, any initiative which may be perceived as weakening the check and balance among the branches of government might shatter this confidence and negate our hard-won economic gains.

 

The Constitution protects the offices of our highest officials by defining strict grounds for the use of impeachment powers against them, precisely because of the significance of their roles and the implications on our legal and justice system. Furthermore, indiscriminate or ill-considered filings of impeachment proceedings against government officials distract those accused from the performance of their duties as public servants, as well as our Congress from its priority legislative agenda. We all suffer unduly and unnecessarily.

 

We believe that the members of Congress were chosen by the people because of their wisdom, patriotism and integrity. JRI therefore looks forward to Congress taking all measures necessary to ensure that:

 

1.         Impeachments are undertaken only for patently substantive and culpable violations of the Constitution; and

2.         The process is transparent and reflects the highest standards of fairness and justice.

 



The Judicial Reform Initiative was established in 2012 by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, the Institute of Corporate Directors, the Management Association of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club, the American Chamber of Commerce, the European Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, and the Movement for Restoration of Peace & Order, among others.