By Llanesca T Panti/Manila Times
Impeachment proceedings against President Rodrigo Duterte are expected to start on May 15 but numbers in the House of Representatives are not yet enough to impeach him, an opposition lawmaker said yesterday.
Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list made the admission pending referral of his impeachment complaint to the House Committee on Justice.
Alejano accused Duterte of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution in connection with the allegedly over 7,000 killings committed during the administration’s eight-month long anti-drug war, failure to assert sovereign rights of the country in the South China Sea and ownership of undeclared wealth of P2bn, among others.
“Our impeachment complaint should be referred to the appropriate committee first, and copies (of the complaint) are to be secured for the members of the justice committee. What I have heard around is that the hearing will start on May 15,” Alejano said in a radio interview.
“As of this point, I must be honest, we don’t have the numbers. There are those who expressed their support, and there were lots of them, but it all boils down to how many of them will stand up for their support,” he added.
Under the Philippine Constitution, a verified complaint for impeachment – meaning anything filed by a member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by a House member – should be included in the Order of Business within 10 session days, and referred to the House justice panel within three session days thereafter.
The same Constitution provides that the justice panel, “after hearing and by a majority vote of all its members, will then submit its report to the House within 60 session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within 10 session days from receipt thereof.”
But if at least 98 or one-third of the members of the House would support the impeachment complaint, the respondent, in this case the president, will outrightly face trial before the Senate impeachment court even without conducting committee hearings similar to what happened in the case of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.
If the House justice committee finds Alejano’s complaint insufficient in form and substance, all will not be lost for him since majority of the lawmakers, in a plenary vote, must uphold the committee report dismissing the impeachment complaint for the complaint to be officially junked.
“We’ll have to see later who will vote for the impeachment. If we won’t be able to gather enough numbers, we won’t name those who will vote for the impeachment because we don’t want them to be the subject of reprisal from the administration,” Alejano said.
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