As I See It – The People’s Court on impeachment continues, citizens weigh in

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By ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

The impeachment proceedings is on its second week and citizens started weighing  in their perspectives in the historic public hearings leveled against US President Donald Trump in a process I call the people’s court. 

The US Congress went public building  their case to the American people that President Trump violated the US constitution by committing impeachable act or actions unlikely for a US president to do which are violations of the Constitution they pledged to uphold as duly elected public officials. 

Ret. Professor Angelito Roldan, now residing in Southern California, in his post in FB in response to my original article on the people’s court said: “America is divided, but if the citizens are well informed about the impeachment proceedings, they may arrive at a unanimous decision which reflects some semblance of unity. Ignorance leads to bigotry and more divisiveness.” 

The impeachment inquiry was made official as a result of the whistleblower complaint when the US Congress passed it with a majority vote of 232 to 196. 

Of course, the first one who weighed in his comment was no less than President Trump. He however questioned the process saying the names of witnesses his GOP colleagues submitted to testify were not allowed by the Democrats which, he said, is unfair. He also continue attacking the credibility of witnesses. The Democrats handling the public hearings offered Trump chance to testify, so he can give firsthand information to clarify things. He said he might do it – in writing. The president’s surprise announcement comes a day after top Democrats invited him to defend himself in the face of accusations that he committed bribery by using foreign policy as a way to help his 2020 reelection bid. His GOP allies also continue to defend him and likewise questioning the process and persistently discrediting the witnesses. Witnesses lined up by the people’s court were blocked by Trump for testifying. Why is he not allowing them to testify? 

Pedro Figuracion, a Filipino-Canadian but with siblings in San Diego, California said: “We call this abusive power.”

Fellow Americans continue to be involved and tried to drop all their bias and follow the public hearings. Grandma Dolores Mesa and Grandpa Avelino Ocampo, both from San Jose, California and volunteers of the County’s Grandparent Program assigned to San Jose Job Corps as teacher aides, said in separate statements that they need to find time tuning in their television to be able to keep abreast of the latest development. They are both concerned about the issue and would like to follow it up regularly. 

While there seems to be a strong case against the president as indicated by the initial closed door testimonies by impartial witnesses, what we need is to hear it from people who witnessed and are knowledgeable of what really happened. Public opinion plays a major role in people’s court. 

The idea is to be involved, tune in your television, watch the presentation, and analyze the situation. We need a public validation before we decide to condemn the president. Public opinion matters…. It shapes public perception…

Vocational teacher Ruel Manipis, also from San Jose, said, “The issue is very important to us Americans, so I make it a point to listen to the proceedings. I watched the first week testimonies of the three key witnesses and I was somehow enlightened on what’s the real score is. I will continue to watch the public hearings with the eight witnesses lined up this week for their sworn statements. It should be interesting considering that there is one star witness who is very close to President Trump and was a major contributor during his 2016 presidential campaign.” 

The inquiry focuses on Trump’s request in a July 25 telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a domestic political rival, Joe Biden, the former vice president who is a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election.

Prof. Angelina Sta. Elena, PhD, from Jose Rizal University, is also following up development of the historic public hearing. She believes people needs to be concerned and involved in issues concerning national interest. 

Republicans continue to question the process for a couple of weeks now saying that the Democrats impeachment inquiry relied on second hand information. This week’s public hearing’s centerpiece is the testimony from Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union and a Trump donor and confederate of Rudy Giuliani in the latter’s backdoor diplomatic efforts for the president in Ukraine. 

Writer Ed Kilgore, in his article, said “Impeachment is to official misconduct… and the procedure for congressional impeachment of Executive branch officials was spelled out in some detail in the U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution specifically mentions “treason” and “bribery” as grounds for impeachment… According to the most common interpretation of this language, impeachment does not require the allegation of a crime, but simply some grave act or pattern of misconduct deemed by Congress as necessitating this radical remedy.”

Also closely monitoring the public hearings are Andy Casabar from San Jose and Allan Navarro, also from San Jose but on vacation in the Philippines, who both said that citizens need to be involved. The issue involves the US Constitution and so every citizen needs to follow the public hearings, they separately commented. 

The impeachment public hearing is now on its second week and may have to go into the 2020 presidential election cycle because there’s no clear expectation about the duration or depth of impeachment hearings. It’s also dependent on the moves of the president and his GOP allies in trying to obstruct the proceedings or continue undermining the process. Unless the Democrats in charge of the public hearing can circumvent their obstruction activities, the hearings may have to go for a longer period against our expectations that it may last for a couple of weeks or so. 

The pace could be dictated by public opinion, which has been moving slowly but steadily in the pro-impeachment direction. If this continues in a faster tempo, the public hearing might be fast-track and may last soon!

The people’s court continues… let’s weigh in as the hearings progresses!

(Elpidio R. Estioko, was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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