The House Justice Committee made it harder to impeach any official when it formally approved today the panel’s decision to dismiss the impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano against President Duterte.

In just under 20 minutes, the House Justice Committee unanimously approved the committee report and draft resolution with 17 members of the committee present for the short meeting chaired by Justice Committee Chair Rey Umali.

In its findings, conclusions and recommendations,  the committeee recommends “that the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the House of Representatives be amended to explicitly allow the dismissal of impeachment complaints based on insufficiency in form. “

Currently, the Rules of Impeachment explicitly allow the dismissal of a complaint based on insufficiency in substance only. under current rules, when a  complaint is found to lack form, the committee will inform the secretary general within 3 session days with a written explanation. the secretary general shall return the same to the complainants together with the committee’s feedback within 3 session days from receipt of the committee resolution finding the complaint insufficient in form.

During the one hearing on the Alejano Complaint last week, President Duterte’s allies wanted the complaint dismissed on insufficiency in form after it was established that Alejano did not have personal knowledge of his allegations, contradicting the complaint’s verification section where he testified under oath that the allegations are true of his own personal knowledge or culled from authentic records.

the committee had also pointed out that the report did not present authenticated documents and relied heavily on media reports.

Verification is a key requirement for a complaint to pass the test of form.  The committee decided to allow it to pass the test of form this time but ruled it will no longer entertain similar complaints in the future. Voting 42-0, it then proceeded to rule that it was insufficient in substance precisely because Alejano did not have personal knowledge.

The committee found the Alejano complaint, albeit defective, sufficient inform but not sufficient in substance.

“It is further redommended that this Committee Report and its accompanying Resoluion Dismissing the Verified Complaint and Supplemental Complaint for the impeachment of Presiednt Rodrigo Roa Duterte be approved in a plenary roll call vote pursuant to Section 3(3) Artcile XI of the Constitution. “

The Alejano complaint was filed March 16, with a supplemental complaint filed March 30. Both were referred by the plenary to the committee on May 9—the start of the one year bar for multiple impeachment complaints against the same official.

The complaint was for betrayal of public trust, bribery, culpable violation of the constitution and other high crimes, graft and corruption, in relations to allegations of state sanctioned killings in the war on drugs, the davao death squad, the alleged ill gotten wealth and the president’s positions on the west philippine sea and the benham rise.

Previouslt, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that requiring personal knowledge for the complainants would make impeachment almost impossible.

(hearing, documents)

(umali presscon 1130pm)