Impeach bids vs Bautista, Sereno start moving at House
The House of Representatives has started the ball rolling for the impeachment moves against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Andres Bautista and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The verified impeachment complaints against Bautista and Sereno have been referred to the House of Representatives justice committee during the session on Thursday.
This paves the way for the first stage in the impeachment proceedings, which will start with deliberations on the form and substance of the impeachment complaints by the House justice committee.
The impeachment complaint against Bautista for alleged ill-gotten wealth was filed by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras, lawyers Ferdinand Topacio and Manuelito Luna, and duly endorsed by Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, and Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino.
Bautista faces an impeachment complaint for allegedly not declaring his true wealth in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities Networth (SALN), as well as for graft and corruption for supposedly receiving commissions from Divina Law Offices, the legal counsel of Venezuelan election technology supplier and Comelec’s biggest contractor Smartmatic.
Meanwhile, Sereno faces two impeachment complaints, which gained the endorsement of 41 lawmakers.
Sereno faced impeachment complaints for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and corruption for purportedly bypassing the Supreme Court en banc in creating new offices, her “whimsical” and “excessive” purchase of the P5.1 million Toyota Land Cruiser, and her alleged failure to declare “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” allegedly amounting to $745,000 or P37 million.
But some lawmakers hinted at a “creeping” impeachment proceeding, once the impeachment complaints get the support of one third of all the House members.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez denied such a move, adding that the complaints need to be scrutinized first in the House.
Under the 1987 Constitution, an impeachment complaint may hurdle the House justice committee and proceed to trial in the Senate impeachment court if it gets one third support of all the members of the House.
In an impeachment proceeding, the House will act as the prosecuting panel while the Senate acts as an impeachment court. JPV
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