"This, rather than make clowns of themselves."
It seems that the House of Representatives is back to its old habits — not by being too submissive to the sitting president but by being too protective of some of its members to the point of saving one’s burning behind at the expense of the truth.
Earlier this week, the House Committee on Justice finally calendared the hearing for the impeachment of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marivic Leonen. While everyone was expecting some fiery discussions even as the hearing was only to be conducted through a Zoom meeting, the members of the House panel doused cold water on those who were waiting for a showdown of intellect when just after a few minutes, they decided to dismiss the impeachment complaint for insufficiency in form and substance, the complaint having failed to attach certified true copies of the evidence presented.
Are they serious?
Lawyer Larry Gadon, who assisted complainant Ed Cordevilla in filing the impeachment case, was quick to point out that in the Sereno impeachment case, although “some grounds were supported by authentic records, some allegations were only supported by photocopies of documents, thus the Justice committee then, who decided to proceed with the case, even issued subpoenas to the SC, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the University of the Philippines, directing them to submit certified copies of the particular documents.
Everyone knows that Gadon and Solicitor General Jose Cailda were rejected by the Supreme Court and the Office of the Ombudsman when they requested for copies of Leonen’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
In the absence of the certified true copies which these offices refused to release, Gadon said the letter from PCOO would be sufficient to show that Leonen violated the SALN law.
“The public already knows that AJ Marivic Leonen violated the Constitution and the SALN law. Only the members of the committee refuse to see this,” Gadon laments.
“The members of the justice committee skirted on their duties to ascertain the truth. all they have to do is to summon the records of the Ombudsman and UP,” says Gadon adding that “with the attitude of the congressmen in treating the complaint, it would be very difficult or nearly impossible for any citizen to file impeachment against any official.”
Gadon says ordinary citizens like the complainant have no means to get certified copies from the SC, Ombudsman and UP, as he himself failed to convince the SC, the Office of the Ombudsman and UP to release to him copies of Leonen’s SALN. And for that matter, no impeachment case can ever be filed from hereon with the ruling established by the committee all the agencies concerned will just outrightly deny providing certified copies of documents just like what the SC , Ombudsman and UP have done.
“The committee failed to view their constitutional duty to ascertain the truth and hid behind a mere technicality,” Gadon says.
“Double standard,” he says, adding that during the Corona impeachment, a lawmaker testified the piece of evidence he presented was dropped at his gate by a mysterious lady but was still accepted.
Yes, I do agree with Atty. Larry this is a case of double standard even when viewed from different perspectives, from different angles. But I also believe this could be a case of saving each other’s behinds.
The impeachment complaint contains, among many grounds, Leonen’s failure to act on the more than 30 election protest cases pending before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal which he heads and whose members include members of the House. And among the pending cases before the HRET is the election protest against Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo.
So, what exactly impeaching Leonen would mean to the House of Representatives?
First, it would threaten the posts of the congressmen still sitting in Congress with only a year left before the next elections by virtue of the HRET’s failure to decide on their case. In fact, Quimbo’s case should have been decided a long time ago as it was grounded on Quimbo’s violation of RA 10667.
Quimbo, was a former commissioner of the Philippine Competition Commission who resigned her post in 2018 to file her candidacy the same year for the congressional seat that was to be vacated by her husband, former Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo. However, RA 10667 bars resigned commissioners from seeking any public office by running in the election, following such separation of PCC.