House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez confirms that the impeachment complaints against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno maybe tackled first by the Justice Committee over the impeachment complaint against Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista.
This after 16 congressmen endorsed the complaint by the VACC Monday, after 25 congressmen endorsed the complaint by Lorenzo Gadon last week. Before that 3 congressmen alreday endorsed the complaint against Bautista.
All complaints are now pending at Alvarez’s office. He has 10 session days to refer to the plenary, which will in turn refer to the justice committee for initial deliberation.
Pressed which will be referred first, Alvarez said, “ Baka yung kay Sereno.”
Alvarez said that they will proceed with the deliberations on the impeachment of the chief justice.
“ Ah, tuloy-tuloy na yan. In fact sabi ko nga inaantay ko na lang yung transmittal from the Secretary General dito sa akin so I can refer it to the committee on rules para basahin na nila doon sa baba at maumpisahan na ng committee on justice.”
Alvarez says this can come soon after the budget deliberations are done. “sa tingin ko naman by next week tapos na kami diyan eh, sa plenary. So yung committee on justice pwede nang mag-umpisa yan ng committee hearing.”
Alvarez adds many congressmen are still interested to endorse the complaints against Sereno, but he doesnt want to allow more to sign to avoid fas tracking the complaint to the Senate for trial. “Hindi pa naman siguro kailangan ngayon. Ayaw ko kasi na…alam mo kung gusto lang namin na dumiretso yan sa impeachment court kayang kaya. Pwedeng gawin. Ayaw kong gawin. Kasi gusto ko dito pa lang i-hearing muna natin para makita natin kung merong ebidensya o wala. Whether it can stand trial in an impeachment court. Dahil mahirap niyan, kagaya nung ginawa kay Corona noon, Chief Justice Corona, idineretso doon sa impeachment court, nangangapa sila ng ebidensya. Unfair naman yun. Hindi maganda.”
Alvarez added, “Oo, kasi pagka pumirma sila lahat diyan at nakuha natin yung mininum number of congressman aakyat na kaagad yan sa impeachment court. So paano kami? We will be forced to prosecute na wala pa kaming hawak na matibay na ebidensya. Ayaw ko namang magmukha kaming tanga doon sa impeachment court.”
Alvarez said he won’t allow the so-called creeping impeachment. “Hindi. Hindi na nga e. Sabi ko tama na yan para pag-usapan na yan doon sa ano, i-hearing na yan sa committee on justice.”
Alvarez believes the evidence against Sereno is strong. “ Matibay kasi me certified true copy in support of those allegations. Tapos what I’ve heard may mga magte-testify din na mga justices.
Alvarez doesnt think the impeachment will lead to a constitutional crisis between 2 co-equal branches of government.
“No. It is a process provided for in the constitution.”
Alvarez denied reports that some congressmen were coerced to sign the impeachment complaints. “Sinong nagsabi niyan? Dalhin mo sa harapan ko. Sampalin ko. Gumagawa sila ng kwento na hindi totoo. Iharap mo sa akin yan kung sinong nagsabi niyan. O talaga, sampalin ko siya sa harapan mo. …Mag-imbento ka, yung totoo. Wag naman yung hindi totoo, kung ano-ano na lang ang sinasabi. Okay? Thank you.”
Opposition Congressmen slammed the leadership for its stance on the impeachment.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said, “ang impeachment ay isang political process ito din nga ay dapat magdala ng hustisya sa ating bansa. pero nakita natin basically nagiging purely political exercise siya dahilr egardless of the casis bibigyang pansin. bakit po ito nasabi dahil i also filed an impeachment complaint against the president. …but because they have a supermajority in congress di nabigyan ng due course. one thing is for sure once the ratings go down once the ratings of the president go down ito mga the same people will sign an impeachment complaint against the president for now habang andiyan ang presidente sila mismo ang nagagamit ng administrasyon against those persons impeavhable officers na gusto tanggalin ng administrasyong ito.”
Alejano added, “it is just a diversion to the real issue. kasi naala natin nung nagfile ako ng impeachment complaint siansabi nis peaker ubusin ng impeachment complaint ang oras ng kongreso sa maraming importanteng gawin sa lehsilatura now in the midst of budget hearing maraming legislative priorities na finafast track ngayon dahil sa oras…hindi ko nakita yung ganung statement ni speaker na mag uubos ng oras. eh ngayon punong puno ang kamay ng kongreso. eh sunod sunod na impeachment complaint ang hinain. nagpapaakita lang ito agenda nito ilto basta gusto ay kaya pagka ayaw ay talagang uupuan o ibabasura ngayon wag dapat tayo madeflect sa tunay na issue right now ang invetsigationsa senate tumutumbok na sa davao group bago lang ito deflection kakasuhan si OMB CJ sereno para madivert the fact remains di pa rin naestablish sino nagship ng tonetoneladang droga sa pilipinas. nagpapakita lang ito ng war on drugs just for a show….pero doon sa mga nadawit na pangalan sa bulto bultong droga…ang explanation nito pag hahabulin mo yan pupunta ito sa hagdanan ng Davao.”
Akbayan rep. Tom Villarin said, “they are outting up scare tactcis and these moves using the supermajority using even the executive branch to really push back democracy this is a dangerous thing and this might create dapat taongbayan mamulat na lahat po ito ginagawa di naman para sa kanila kungdi para sa mga powers that be. i think in the later weeks malalaman natin when this outrage against EJKS and outrage against the involvment of the Vice mayor of Davao.”
Albay Rep. Tom Villarin for his part said, “i think these 2 impeachment acses will have to be consolidted so that it will be a simpler process before the committee on justice. if they can have 1/3 of the House to endorse the impeachment then that will the CJ will have to be impeached and it will have to be sent to the senate for adjudication. the senate sitting as the impeachment court. that is neither here nor theres if members of the supermajority will endorse the impeachment they have done so already but they have not… but we have not seen a copy of the impeachment complaints so it will be hard for us to say the prospects of the impeachment cases prospering in the HoR”
House Justice Committee Chairman Rey Umali expects the impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Sereno and Comelec Chairman Andres Bautusta to be tackled once the House disposes of the 2018 budget.
Umali says right now, none of the impeachment complaints have been endorsed to his committee yet. “not yet i think the rules committee is giving priority to the budget so yung plenary debates plenary budget debates once this is completed i think the rules committee will start referring this to the committee on justice” Asked about the possible schedule assuming the House finishes with the plenary deliberations of the 2018 budget this week. Umali said, “next week will be the referral and the usual procedures which is giving advanced copies and notices to the members i am looking at if it is referred to my committee next week then we start the week after.”
Umali says while the complaints have been endorsed by congressmen and referred to the office of the speaker, congressmen can still add their signatures to the resolution of endorsement, possibly paving the way for 1/3 of all congressmen to endorse the complaint and send the complaint to the Senate for immediate trial. “creeping impeachment is possible during the time the matter is still with the speaker of the house before it is referred to the committee on justice because once it is referred to us it is already considered as having been initiated
now that it has not been referred it is still possible.”
asked for his basis, Umali said, “wala naman kaniya lang the juris prudence on the matter i guess in th fRancisco and the Gutierrez case kasi yung Gutierrez case there were several impeachment cases filed on different dates but was referred to the committee on jutsice at the same time.”
Umali stresses that the 1/3 requirement has to be met upon initiation, which means referral to the Committee on Justice. “ regardless kasi filing lang yun pagpirma is even before filing once nakapirma that is just one part of the initiation process the 2nd part is the referral itself if at any point in time before referral that all of these are alreday in place these complaints were referred to us simulatenously we take jursidiction over it.”
However a look at the House Rules on impeachment shows that Rule IV sec 13 states that a verified complaint /resolution of impeachment filed by at least 1/3 of all the members of the House shall constitute the articles of impeachment, and in this case the verified complaint/resolution shall be endorsed to the Senate in the same manner as an approved bill of the House. The complaint/ resolution must at the time of the filing be verified and sworn to before the secretary-General by each of the Members constituting at least 1/3 of all the members of the House.
asked what happens to the 2 complaints against Sereno, Umali explained that should one already get the 1/3 or 98 signatures needed, the one without the 98 signatures will be left behind. but if both complaints go through the justice committee, these can be consolidated.
“2 yan kung if anyone of those complaints muster the magic number of 98 it goes direct yung isa mawawala na yun. wala nang process kasi the complaint itself constitutes the articles of impeachment since that is alreday intiiated wala na barred na yung the other it cannot be incprorated because the only by which you incocproate is it goes through the commitee on justice and we prepare the articles of impeachment.”
Umali doesnt see any problems with the committee handling 2 separate cases against Bautista and Sereno.”i think so courts handle more than 2 cases at any point in time i see no reason why the committee cannot handle just 2 siguro its just a matter of scheduleing one we call on a Monday the otehr call on a Tuesday or Wednesday parang may konting reprieve.”
Umali concedes right now the preference of the House leadership is for the impeachment cases to go through the committee on justice.”as of now if i will base it on the statement of the leader of the house who is the speaker ang gusto niya committee on justice kami naman we will just perform our constitutional mandate if and when referred to us”
Umali also doesnt even see any impact on the panel’s legilsative work. the panel met today to start working on the Philippine Code of Crimes, which is meant to replace the Revised Penal Code. “walang prublema kasi you know naman sa impeachment while tis is really committee on justice work many non mebers of the committee on justrice attend. as you very well know we alreday empowered the 5 subcommittees of the committee on justice
eto nga code of crimes mahirap ito we will create twgs alreday where one member i will match against 1 member of the academe and we will divide the pie and we will make everybody work work management and time management”
Under the House Rules, Only the Committee on Rules and such committees to which it has granted permission, may meet while the House is in plenary session, has adjourned, or is in recess.