THE House committee on justice will hold marathon hearings on several impeachment complaints filed against three government officials, the panel’s chairman said Monday.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said it is the justice committee’s constitutional duty to attend to the impeachment complaints filed, respectively, against Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista and Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and another expected this week against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
“We have no choice. It’s a constitutional duty that we have to perform to the best of our abilities,” Umali said, even as anti-corruption groups filed a second impeachment complaint against Sereno on Monday.
Earlier, former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras filed an impeachment complaint against Bautista for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution over allegations of ill-gotten wealth. The complaint was endorsed by at least three lawmakers.
Lawyer Larry Gadon, meanwhile, wanted Sereno removed from her post for betrayal of public trust for the “whimsical” and “excessive” purchase of the latest model of the Toyota Land Cruiser amounting to P5.1 million, as well as her alleged failure to declare “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” allegedly amounting to P37 million. The complaint was endorsed by at least 25 lawmakers.
Monday’s impeachment complaint against Sereno, filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc., was endorsed by 16 lawmakers led by Lanao del Sur Rep. Mauyag Papandayan Jr. The group’s ouster complaint against the Chief Justice was almost the same as that of Gadon’s.
The VACC earlier said it would file an impeachment complaint against Morales this week. Morales has has only 10 months left in her term.
A draft complaint alleges that Morales betrayed the public trust and was guilty of culpable violations of the Constitution due to alleged selective prosecution of cases and inordinate delays or failure to act on pending complaints.
Umali said the impeachment complaints filed could be transmitted to the Senate once it reaches one-third or 98 out of 294 House members.
“Once referred, proceedings are deemed initiated, so the justice committee will have to complete its task, until it submits its report to the plenary for approval, as per the rules on impeachment,” Umali said.
He said the impeachment process is “deemed initiated” only when the verified complaint is referred to the House justice committee.
During the 11th Congress, the House impeached then President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada through a so-called creeping impeachment when then Speaker Manny Villar transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate after the verified complaint obtained one-third of total House members-signatures.
But under the House Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the 17th Congress, only an impeachment complaint with one-third of the chamber’s signatures at the time of filing will go to the Senate Impeachment Court for a full-blown trial.
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