House exec predicts:
EMBATTLED Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen is finished by September.
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez made this clear during the Batasan Forum as he stressed the point that it is the “constitutional duty” of members of the Congress to decide on matters elevated to the lawmakers by concerned citizens such as the impeachment complaint slapped on Leonen.
“I believe before October, this [impeachment complaint against Associate Justice Leeonen] should be finished. Because we have to do it. We should finish it, it’s our constitutional duty,” Rodriguez pointed out.
He presented the September deadline as the time frame to decide on whether to send the impeachment complaint to the Senate for trial.
Impeachment is the manner to boot out members of the high bench as stipulated in the 1987 Constitution.
The other way is the quo warranto where the ball to end the judicial career of the high bench’s magistrate is delegated to the members of the high court.
This was proven legally correct and accepted after then Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno was kicked out in 2018 after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed complaints against her through quo warranto.
Rodriguez, who represents Cagayan de Oro’s second district at the House of Representatives, averred the idea of finishing off Leonen by September after the impeachment complaint was referred to the House Justice Committee on Tuesday by Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
Based on the House Rules of Impeachment, the committee headed by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso will first find out if the impeachment complaint is sufficient in form, which refers to the format of the impeachment complaint.
If the complaint is sufficient in form, then the committee shall determine if the complaint is sufficient in substance.
According to the House Rules on Impeachment, “The requirement of substance is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee. If the committee finds that the complaint is not sufficient in substance, it shall dismiss the complaint and shall submit its report as provided hereunder”.
Part of the accusations hurled by Filipino League of Advocates for Good Governance – Maharlika (FLAGG – Maharlika) Secretary – General Edwin Cordevilla said Leonen has committed “culpable violation of the Constitution” for allegedly “arbitrarily, willfully, intentionally, deliberately & malevolently, with evident bad faith, failing to dispose of at least” 37 cases out of more than 81 cases that were raffled off to Leonen few months after he was appointed to the Supreme court in November 2012.
The 37 cases were categorized for immediate decision of Leonen.
Supreme Court records showed that Leonen has the highest number of cases under his lap.
The Cordevilla complaint said as Supreme Court magistrate, Leonen was “mandated by Section 15 (1), Article 8, in relation to Section 16, Article III of the Constitution, which mandates the prompt action and speedy disposition of cases” to make ponencias of the cases assigned to him not more than 24 months period.
Cordevilla also accused Leonen of not doing his job as head of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) as the latter has no decision on dozens of electoral protests as of this month.
Leonen was also accused of refusal to file his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) for fifteen times while serving law professor at the College of Law at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Cordevilla earlier told reporters that his impeachment complaint has clearly specified the supposed crimes committed by Leonen so that it would pass the criteria of substance pegged by the House Rules on Impeachment.
According Rodriguez, the September deadline is not farfetched since the lawmakers will do its job even during Congress recess from June 4 to July 25.
Rodriguez, likewise, revealed that there is a big possibility that majority of more 300 members of the House need not take their part in the impeachment complaint if 100 congressmen will endorse the impeachment complaint to immediately send it to the Senate.
As of May 19, only Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Barba has endorsed the impeachment complaint.
This scenario happened when 100 congressmen endorsed the impeachment complaint against then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2019, which led to his impeachment trial by the Senate.
“That’s the third option. The option of being able to have hundred, one hundred signatures…the impeachment complaint will immediately transmitted to the Senate, and that complaint becomes the article of impeachment. So, diretso ‘yan… hundred signatures diretso sa Senado,” he explained.
“Moot na ‘yung mga hearing. Wala na. Hundred persons (congressmen) already express their supports to the impeachment, wala na. Just goes up [in the Senate],” Rodriguez added.
Even the minority group headed by Abang Lingkod party – list Rep. Joseph Estephen “Caraps” Paduano is very much interested to participate in the proceedings against Leonen.
Minority leader Paduano said in a statement that his group will ensure that proper impeachment procedures pegged the House rules must be strictly followed and carried out.
The other concern of the minority, according to Paduano is that “Each member of the minority with voting rights in the committee is free to deliver their conscience vote on the impeachment”.