The reported scheme to oust Chief Justice Reynato Puno is supposedly based on an electoral case involving Olivia Paras, the wife of former congressman Jacinto Paras (KAMPI, Negros Oriental). She lost by a margin of 7,746 votes to the sitting congresswoman Jocelyn Limkaichong. She, together with some other litigants, then filed a case questioning the citizenship–and hence the qualification–of Rep. Limkaichong. It reached the Supreme Court.
A litigant, a certain Atty. Louis Biraogo, reportedly a friend of former congressman Paras, initiated the present imbroglio by claiming in a press conference last month that Chief Justice Puno–despite a supposedly unanimous decision by his 14 co-justices finding for the litigants–sat on the case. As a result, former congressman Paras was reported to have gone the rounds of the House of Representatives asking the legislators to impeach Chief Justice Puno (he said he did not do it).
On its face, the impeachment attempt is a ridiculous one. There’s neither rhyme nor reason for such a move. Paras or Biraogo, on their own, do not have the clout to do such a move. However, in Philippine politics, one does not need logic to undertake a political maneuver.
The context of the political crisis of the GMA administration says it all. At the least, impeaching or threatening to impeach a Chief Justice can hopefully lead to a more malleable Supreme Court, especially in the light of the desperate move to change the constitution. The latter, particularly the convening of a constituent assembly, will have to hurdle the Supreme Court. The Puno Supreme Court has decided in the past against the Malacañang position.
Somebody must be pretty desperate to use the Puno impeachment as a bludgeon to force charter change. Three institutions today are under (or will be subject to) heavy pressure to facilitate charter change: Congress, the armed forces and the police, and the Supreme Court.
A fourth one–the Commission on Elections–is also within the sights of pro-Cha-cha proponents. A majority of four out of seven commissioners are still to be confirmed or appointed.
The conspiracy thesis exists. What remains to be seen is the unfolding of the conspiracy.