Saturday, November 05, 2005
Citizens’ Congress for Truth and Accountability Concept Paper
The brazen killing of the impeachment proceedings in Congress has denied the public the chance to know the truth and demand accountability of the President for the various crimes and misdemeanors for which she is being accused. Instead of resolving the political crisis, the dismissal of the complaint on technical grounds has only aggravated the situation.
This failure of the Constitutional process has reinforced the need for an alternative venue to present, examine and perpetuate the body of evidence against the President and determine her accountability as well as that of other public officials.
It is for this reason that the Bukluran Para sa Katotohanan has initiated the creation of a Citizens’ Congress for Truth and Accountability (Citizens’ Congress or CCTA for brevity). The amended impeachment complaint was turned over by the House Impeachment Team on September 6 after the administration-dominated Congress voted down the impeachment of Mrs. Arroyo. Bukluran has created a Steering Committee which came up with the proposal and laid the ground for the convening of a Citizens’ Congress.
The Citizens’ Congress aims to be a venue for the presentation and examination of the cases and pieces of evidence against the President on charges that she violated the Constitution, betrayed the public trust, and engaged in bribery, graft and corruption. Aside from hearing the said cases and evidences, the Citizens’ Congress will come up with findings and conclusions.
The Citizens’ Congress derives its legal basis from Art. XIII Sec. 15 of the Constitution, which provides:
“The State shall respect the role of independent people’s organizations to
enable the people to pursue and protect, within the democratic framework their legitimate and collective interests and aspirations through peaceful and lawful means.”
The amended impeachment complaint will serve as the foundation for the
Citizens’ Congress’ work. This involves specific acts of electoral fraud including the controversial ‘Hello Garci tape’ and the use of government funds for election, cases of bribery, graft and corruption and mounting political repression and massive human rights violations. Other issues may be added as deemed necessary.
The Citizens' Congress will be composed of about 400 delegates coming from various sectors of society. The convenors of the Congress shall be composed of individuals known for their integrity and credibility. The set of presiding officers or presidium shall be composed of personalities known for their competence, probity and fairness. A team of lawyer-delegates shall serve as the presentor and will help the delegates and the presidium examine the cases and evidences. A Congress secretariat will be formed to provide administrative and technical assistance.
The Citizens’ Congress will adopt its own set of Rules of procedure guiding its sessions and public hearings.
The Citizens’ Congress will hold its sessions 3-4 hours a day, the first set of hearings will be held on November 8, 9, 15 and 16 from 9:00 am to 1:00 p.m.
The Citizens’ Congress will gather, sift through and weigh the evidences with the help of select members of the House impeachment team and private lawyers who will serve as lawyer-delegates. It shall invite witnesses to give their testimonies under oath.
The Congress’ findings and recommendations will be presented to the public and in particular to religious institutions like the CBCP, AMRSP. NCCP, PCEC, the media, schools, public institutions like Congress and the Office of the Ombudsman as well as appropriate international bodies.