For House Justice Committee Chair Rey Umali, the Lower House would have probably not been able to impeach and convict Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona had it applied the same standards it used in dismissing the impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano against President Duterte.

Umali was asked if Corona could have been convicted without the help of the so-called “small lady” who supposedly handed documents on Corona’s bank records to Umali. Umali said, “Kaya nga kung may sustansiya yung pina-file nya and he has one year to prepare for it. Because the one-year ban rule started on May 9 when we started our impeachment proceedings. Now he can come back and lay the basis for all those things he wants us to appreciate now, even if it’s haphazardly. To my mind and to the mind of the many members, medyo frivolous yung complaint.”

The unindeitified “small lady” supposedly handed Umali documents on Corona’s bank records in the Senate premises at the height of the impeachment trial.

In a Phone call, Alejano however pointed out that unlike the Corona impeachment, he had yet to present evidence on his complaint against the President.”yung sinasabi nila na sinasabi ko kahit report nila ay insufficient in substance sinasabi walang ebidensiyang prinisinta di pa tayo dumatings a pagpresenta ng ng ebdiensiya. sila mismo complainant noon wala naman silang personal knowledge. kaya kaso ako pagkakaintindi ko youre a complainant based on the witnesses….kaya nga sa kanila double standard eh nagwalk in lang small lady. ginamit rin nila. sila rin yun. ginamit din nila yung information ng small lady na ngayon sa akin di pa ako binigyan ng chance na magpresenta ng ebidensiya, if it fits their objective sabihin pag hindi kahit ginawa nila noon babaliin rin nila sarili nila.”

Umali admitted as much, “yung kay Justice Corona naman, iba naman ang nangyari dun. One hundred eighty eight of us filed it and so we dispensed with the hearings in the Committee on Justice and went straight to Senate for the  impeachment trial and that was quite a difficult task  because it was only during that time na yung ebidensiya namin ay pino-produce namin. But we had a lot and we had interviewed a lot of people who were willing to testify. Pero impeachment court na ito. Hindi na ito yung parang preliminary investigation, the way we do it in the Committee on Justice. So, ito yung difference ng situation dito.”

Alejano had wanted the proceedings to look into the bank records of the president.

Umali’s committee affirmed this morning the dismissal of the complaint at their level so that it can be voted upon in plenary soon. The committee held it had insufficient substance after Alejano admitted he had no personal knowledge of his allegations. Umali recalled that he himself had went through the same level of scrutiny when he was among the prosecutors of the Corona impeachment at the Senate in 2012.

Umali said, Anong sustansiya nung pina-file niya ngayon? Kanya all hearsay and so we cannot move no, we cannot even ask him. In fact, tinatanong siya, may personal knowledge ka ba? you know I went through a lot also during my time when the “small lady” came out and I was investigated. Tiningnan yun kung saan binigay sa akin yun because whoever provides that information can be liable under the Bank Secrecy Law so hindi ganun ka-simple yun. But here comes Cong. Alejano, presenting papers, actually matrix yun of the many so-called accounts or moneys of the Duterte family. Saan nya kinuha yun? And then he claims it is authenticated or authentic. How can that be authentic when the Bank Secrecy Law prohibits the divulging of those The one year bar against multiple impeachment complaints against the same official took effect for President Duterte last May 9, when the complaint was referred to the committee.

Umali dispelled criticisms that the personal knowledge requirement makes impeachment practically impossible. ” Not necessarily because you know, what is important is that whoever will stand trial can really present his case with convincing evidence.” Speaking about the Corona trial, Umali’s committee will submit its report and resolution to the Rules Committee which shall then include it in the agenda of the plenary. “We will submit the report to the Committee on Rules and hopefully, probably at the earliest Wednesday. If not, by next week, Monday, we hope that this matter be tackled and/or approved in Plenary.”

(sots Umali, Alejano phone call)