The House of Representatives Committee on Justice on Monday has junked the impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte filed by Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, saying the rap was “insufficient in substance.”
The panel found the complaint to be sufficient in form, but Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon and Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro moved to declare the rap insufficient in substance over questions about Alejano’s knowledge about the details included in the rap.
A total of 42 members voted to declare the complaint “insufficient in substance.”
The panel will then prepare a report on the matter for the House plenary.
The vote for dismissal came only minutes after the committee declared the impeachment complaint sufficient in form, with only one member voting against the motion. House leaders said this decision was made “out of pure liberality.”
Before the vote on the complaint’s form, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas introduced an amendment to the motion, saying that it would be “the last time” that the committee will entertain any complaint “where the affiant or complainant” does not have first-hand knowledge.
During the hearing, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas grilled Alejano on the points raised in the complaint, starting with the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings.
“You took it upon yourself to state under oath that you have personal knowledge on this, but now you’re saying hindi pala,” Fariñas said.
Fariñas indicated that Alejano violated Paragraph 3 of the verification of complaint, where a complainant swears under oath that all his allegations are “true and correct” to his personal knowledge or via authenticated records.
“Any complainant who should come before Congress must really stand to this oath,” he said.
Overall, it took the panel just about four hours to discuss, then junk, Alejano’s complaint.
The bottleneck of the said discussion came as members of the panel, most of whom are allies of the President, expressed differing views over how to effectively dismiss the rap.
Under Sec. 4 of the Rules of Procedures in Impeachment Proceedings, if the committee finds that the complaint is insufficient in form, it will be returned to the House secretary general within three session days with a written explanation of the insufficiency.
The Secretary General is then tasked to return the rap to the complainant within another three session days.
Some committee members opined that this will only prolong the discussion of the impeachment complaint against the President, for which they had expressed their opposition.
Others noted that the substance of the complaint must be discussed.
This prompted the Committee leadership to call for an executive session to iron out the said “ambiguity,” which took about an hour.
Justice committee chair Rey Umali was among those who tagged Alejano’s allegations as “hearsay.”
“Nakita naman na malinaw na malinaw na ‘yung mga alegasyon doon sa complaint ay walang base, dahil unang una, ito ay hearsay, ika nga. In fact, even the records appended in the complaint is without authentication,” he said.
“Inamin naman ni Congressman Alejano na ito’y wala siyang personal knowledge sa lahat ng alegasyon. And even a review of the complaint itself, malinaw na malinaw, he is citing records of newspaper accounts. So wala talagang personal knowledge,” he added.
“Ngayon napakahirap, ano, pagka ganu’n… ‘Yung sinasabi nga natin frivolous itong complaint na ifinile, ay napakabigat. Paano ka magpo-proceed kung walang pinagbabasehan ang complaint?” he went on.
Under Sec. 11 of the Rules of Procedure, the panel’s dismissal of the complaint may be overturned by a vote of at least one-third of all members of the House, or 98 members under the 17th Congress.
Alejano, in his 16-page complaint, cited the following as grounds for Duterte’s impeachment:
- Culpable violation of the Constitution
- Engaging in bribery
- Betrayal of public trust
- Graft and corruption
- Other high crimes