House panel mulls to consolidate impeach raps vs. 7 SC justices

MANILAThe chairman of the House justice committee is mulling the possibility of consolidating the individual impeachment complaints against the seven Supreme Court (SC) justices who voted to oust former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

In a press conference on Monday, committee chairman Salvador "Doy" Leachon said it is possible to consolidate the seven complaints against the magistrates involving "similarly situated" parties, same facts, and same issues.

"We can make the consolidation to expedite the proceeding," Leachon said, adding the impeachment deliberations will begin on September 4.

Leachon said his panel would expedite the impeachment process, considering that it is the directive of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a lot of priority measures should be tackled, including the deliberation of the 2019 national budget.

"We will resolve this issue as soon as we can," Leachon said, while vowing to deal with the impeachment complaints with "greatest impartiality."

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin filed impeachment complaints against the seven SC justices for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

The seven magistrates facing impeachment raps are Noel Tijam, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta, and Francis Jardeleza. De Castro has been recently appointed as new Chief Justice.

Arroyo earlier vowed to expedite the impeachment proceedings against the seven jutices so as not to "disturb the legislative agenda" of the House of Representatives.

Arroyo said the impeachment complaints would be included in the House's order of business on Tuesday and will be referred to the justice committee the same day.

The justice committee, after conducting hearings, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within 60 session days from such referral.

A vote of at least one-third of House members is needed to send the impeachment complaints to the Senate. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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