House refers impeach raps vs. 7 SC magistrates to justice panel

The House of Representatives on Tuesday formally referred the impeachment complaints against newly-appointed Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and six other Supreme Court (SC) justices to the Committee on Justice.

sc-justices-impeachment

FACING IMPEACHMENT RAPS. The House of Representatives is set to start the hearing on the impeachment complaint filed by opposition lawmakers against the seven magistrates of the Supreme Court who voted in favor of the quo warranto petition against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (1st row L-R: Newly-appointed Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro; Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta and Francis Jardeleza. 2nd row L-R: Associate Justices Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., and Alexander Gesmundo)

The referral to the justice committee comes upon the resumption of session and would signal the start of the impeachment process.

House justice committee chairman Salvador Leachon said his panel will start hearing the complaints on September 4.

Following the directive of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Leachon vowed to expedite the impeachment process while treating it with “utmost impartiality and transparency”.

“What I can guarantee to the entire nation, and so with the public, so with the complainants, and so with the respondents is that the committee will be dealing with this with utmost impartiality and transparency,” said Leachon.

Last week, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin filed impeachment complaints against the seven magistrates who voted to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

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.

The complainants accused the seven justices of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

The complainants said that the Supreme Court decision dated May 11, 2018 which ousted Sereno by granting the quo warranto petition “is not only errant, it is also malevolent. It is not only bereft of constitutional anchorage, it is also a blatant subterfuge, an orchestrated charade.”

The Justice Committee is tasked to determine sufficiency in form, substance, grounds and probable cause in the impeachment complaints so that it can recommend appropriate action to the plenary.

The panel, 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)

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