House panel okays report junking impeach rap vs. SC justices

MANILA The House of Representatives' justice committee on Tuesday unanimously approved its report on the dismissal of the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Teresita de Castro and six associate justices.

Voting 22-0, the panel members approved the committee report, which found the complaint filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano to be sufficient in form but insufficient in substance.

Aside from de Castro, the other six justices accused were 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 via quo warranto.

The committee report will be forwarded to the House plenary for approval. A vote of at least one-third of all House members is required either to approve the report or overturn it.

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.

The justices were also charged with culpable violation of the Constitution because they usurped the constitutional power of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to vet the qualifications of applications for positions in the judiciary, and to nominate applicants to judicial positions to the exclusion of both the executive branch and the SC.

Meanwhile, de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Tijam, and Jardeleza were charged with betrayal of public trust for their refusal to inhibit themselves in the adjudication of the quo warranto petition.

The five magistrates testified against Sereno during the impeachment hearings at the lower chamber and approved the quo warranto petition during the oral arguments before the SC.

Last September 11, the House justice committee dismissed the impeachment complaint against the SC justices for insufficiency in substance.

ANGKLA Partylist Rep. Jess Manalo said the seven justices were bound by their "constitutional mandate" to decide on the quo warranto petition, noting that proceeding with the impeachment process is a violation of the separation of powers.

Cavite Rep. Strike Revilla said the five justices, who testified before the House justice committee hearings on Sereno's impeachment, should not be punished for respecting a co-equal branch of government.

Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal argued that if the impeachment complaint succeeds, there will no longer be quorum in the SC and would eventually lead to political instability in the country. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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