Romualdez believes House committee on justice to act judiciously on complaint
HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez has expressed belief that members of the House committee on justice will judiciously act on the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Mario Victor F. Leonen.
Romualdez, chairman of the House committee on rules, after the plenary on Tuesday night referred the impeachment complaint against Leonen to the House committee on justice chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso III for full-blown hearing.
“We believe that the Chairman and Members of the House of Committee on Justice will act judiciously on the impeachment complaint based on constitutional grounds and in accordance with established rules and practices,” Romualdez added.
“The ball is now in the hands of the House Committee on Justice, ably chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso III who had served as Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA),” said Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).
“The House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco performed its constitutional duty when it referred to the House Committee on Justice (Wednesday) the impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court (SC) Justice Marvic Leonen,” Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), said.
A group advocating good governance last December filed an impeachment complaint at the House Secretary General’s office against Leonen for alleged “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust” that stemmed from the reported non-filing of the latter’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 15 years.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos endorsed the impeachment complaint filed by Edwin Cordevilla, Secretary General of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government and was assisted by Atty. Larry Gadon, before House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza.
Before the plenary referral of the impeachment complaint, Romualdez presided over the House Committee on Rules’ regular meeting Tuesday afternoon where members overwhelmingly adopted the motion of Iloilo City Rep. Julienne “Jam” Baronda to include the matter in the Calendar of Business.
On March 25, Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco transmitted the impeachment complaint against Leonen filed by Cordevilla and endorsed by Barba to House committee on rules led by Romualdez.
Under Section 3, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), said “the House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.”
“The same section of the constitutional provision mandates the House to act on a verified complaint for impeachment filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof.”
“The impeachment complaint filed by private citizen Edwin Cordevilla, secretary general of Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, was properly endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Barba in accordance with that constitutional provision,” Romualdez said.
“The Constitution and the House Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings are clear on the timetable for acting on such complaint. The Committee on Justice, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within 60 session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution,” he said.
According to the complaint, Leonen “clearly lacks integrity because he failed to file for 15 years his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN)” as required by law and accused the SC Associate Justice of being “negligent and incompetent” for allegedly failing to dispose 37 cases in the Supreme Court (SC).
“Respondent failed to consider the implications of these prolonged delays in the lives of the litigants. He should know that when justice is delayed to a fault, uncertainty in the litigants lingers, thereby diminishing trust and confidence in the Court,” the complaint said.
“It is also apparent that respondent has been both negligent and incompetent for failing to dispose thirty-seven (37) cases in the Supreme Court in contravention of the Constitutional mandate that cases should be decided within twenty four months from the time it is submitted for resolution. In doing so, he violated the Constitutional mandate that “all persons have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies,” the complaint said.
Cordevilla said Leonen allegedly betrayed public trust and unfit to continue in office.
“It covers all offenses unbecoming of a public official which are not punishable by criminal statutes. This includes inexcusable negligence of duty, tyrannical abuse of power, breach of official duty by malfeasance and obstruction of justice that is prejudicial to public interest,” it said. “Because public office is a public trust, all public officers are accountable to the people. Public trust, when betrayed, is a ground for impeachment and removal from office.”
He also said that Leonen allegedly committed culpable violation of the Constitution for “arbitrarily, willfully, intentionally, deliberately & malevolently, with evident bad faith, failing to dispose of at least thirty seven cases within twenty four months as mandated by Section 15
(1), Article VIII, in relation to Section 16, Article III of the Constitution, which mandates the prompt action and speedy disposition of cases.”
“Because of these gross lapses, he must now be held accountable for his actions. Respondent is guilty of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust. Therefore, he should not be allowed to continue in office,” said Cordevilla.
In his previous a statement, Leonen urged public officials to always do the right thing in the appreciation of the impeachment complaint.
“Given the urgent and pressing needs of our people during this time of crises, we are confident that our leaders will do the right thing. Certainly, this may not be to attend to false issues raised by some for clearly personal or vindictive reasons,” said Leonen.
“Regardless, we wish everyone the best for this season of kindness and compassion. May we all continue to help others who are still truly in need,” Leonen added.