MANILA, OCTOBER 29, 2003  (MALAYA) EDITORIAL - SAY what you will about Speaker Jose de Venecia. He's a trapo. He's a Machiavelli.

But when passions are raging unchecked, threatening to undermine the very foundations of government, who else but Joe could be counted upon to come up with a proposed "win-win" solution (he should copyright "win-win")?

We are in a fine pickle indeed. The chief justice has been impeached by the required one-third membership of the House. The transmittal of the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial has, however, been delayed by cold-blooded manipulation of the rules, combined with some dirty tricks, by Deputy Speaker Raul Gonzalez (no need to guess who put up Gonzalez to it), resulting in a House adjournment.

More time has been gained for hammering out a compromise, just what Joe needs.

The outline of Joe's proposed "win-win" solution is for Chief Justice Hilario to open the books of the Judiciary Development Fund. The impeachment proponents, in return, would withdraw their complaint. From where we sit, that proposal is reasonable enough. And given enough time, we have no doubt Joe could swing it.

Unfortunately the Supreme Court yesterday rashly joined the political fray, issuing an order order directing the impeachment proponents and the House leadership to maintain the status quo, as if a TRO against a co-equal branch of government would smell less foul by some other name.

We fear a constitutional crisis? The Supreme Court has just shoved us closer to the brink. Has it not entered the heads of the justices that they are as much the indictees in the complaint as Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.?

Among the allegations in the complaint is the alleged raid on the JDF, of which 80 percent is earmarked for cost-of-living allowances of court employees. The money was used to buy cars and to furnish the offices of the justices, not to speak of building posh mansions for them in Baguio and a sports and leisure complex in Tagaytay.

They, in effect, are saying they can hear a case where they are parties in interest.

We have a suggestion to the justices: Stay in your ivory tower; leave politics to the politicians.

Joe and the likes of him, the supposedly disreputable, might yet save your necks.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved