House panel: Impeach complaint vs. SC justices sufficient in form

MANILA The House of Representatives' justice committee on Tuesday found the consolidated impeachment complaint against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and six associate justices to be sufficient in form.

All 21 committee members who were present during the hearing found the impeachment complaint filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano to be sufficient in form. No member voted in the negative.

All these complaints have met the requirement of sufficiency in form. I therefore move that all the complaints that were just consolidated earlier (to be declared that) there exists a sufficiency in form, Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal said.

Aside from de Castro, also facing impeachment raps are Associate Justices Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta, and Francis Jardeleza for voting in favor of the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The complainants accused the seven justices of allegedly violating the Constitution, saying they are fully aware that impeachment is the only mode or process of removing impeachable officials, like the Chief Justice.

Meanwhile, 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.

On the question of sufficiency in form, Lagman said it is determined principally by finding whether the impeachment complaint is verified or not.

"The standard requirements of a valid verification are: the allegations are true and correct based on the personal knowledge of the complainants," he said.

"The truth and correctness of the complainants' averments are additionally based on their appreciation of the authentic records and documents, which are attached to the complaint. The verifications in the separate complaints precisely affirmed and complied with the foregoing requirements," Lagman added.

After the complaint was declared sufficient in form, Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo moved for the suspension of the impeachment proceedings to give time for the members to read the complaint before determining the sufficiency in substance.

The next hearing was reset on September 11.

The committee earlier consolidated the seven impeachment complaints upon the motion of Ako-Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin.

Garbin said the complaints should be consolidated considering that the grounds of impeachment are "founded (o)n the same facts, or forming part of a series of alleged offenses of similar character."

Lagman endorsed the consolidation to expedite the impeachment process. He, however, noted that the allegation for culpable violation of the Constitution should be filed against the seven magistrates.

Meanwhile, the allegation of betrayal of public trust only applies to de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Tijam, and Jardeleza. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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