Impeach bid vs 7 SC justices ‘dead’

October 07, 2018

THE chairman of the House Committee on Justice yesterday said that the majority of the 292-strong House of Representatives will affirm their report dismissing the consolidated impeachment complaint against seven justices of the Supreme Court.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon, the panel chairman, said he sees no reason for the plenary to overturn their recommendation to junk the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo for being insufficient in substance.

But Leachon hinted at the possibility that the final nail in the coffin or the House plenary action for the ouster petition may happen when Congress resumes session after the Halloween break.

After all signatures are gathered in the committee report, Leachon said his committee will immediately ask House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. to include their report in the Order of Business (OB) for plenary action.

“The committee report is still being circulated for signature of voting members. That’s why we can’t still set with Congressman Nonoy Andaya the plenary schedule,” Leachon said in an interview.

But Leachon guaranteed that their report would be presented in the plenary after the break if they cannot act on it this week.

“Probably [when we resume]. For sure we will finish it (impeachment complaint) when we get back,” said Leachon. Congress begins its break on October 13 and resumes session on November 12.

Earlier, the Leachon panel voted 23 against one to dismiss the consolidated impeachment complaint after it did not meet the requirement of sufficiency in substance.

The House rules on impeachment provide that the complaint can be declared sufficient in substance “if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee.”

The impeachment complaint was filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano.

Earlier, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Leachon panel to dispose of the complaints at the soonest possible time to ensure that the impeachment process will not hamper the House's legislative mill.

Impeachment complainants accused de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Reyes, Jardeleza, Tijam, and Gesmundo of culpable violation of the Constitution.

The seven justices allegedly took away the powers of Congress to impeach when they voted in favor of granting the quo warranto petition against dismissed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

They also said that “de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Tijam and Jardeleza are also charged with betrayal of public trust for their refusal to inhibit themselves in the adjudication of the quo warranto petition despite their patent and continuing ill will, bias and prejudice against Sereno as shown by their respective testimonies before the House Committee on Justice and their statements during the oral arguments in the quo warranto petition.”