MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE 2) The impeachment complaints filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a motion for intervention have been dismissed at the House of Representatives for lack of jurisdiction.
The ruling was reached by the committee on justice Wednesday after lengthy debates by the congressmen on the complaints by lawyers Guillermo Sotto and Oliver Lozano and motion for intervention by Manuel Quezon III, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, INQUIRER.net blogger, and television host.
Lawmakers from the minority bloc who are backing Quezon?s motion were outvoted, 4 to 35, during the division of the House.
The motion for intervention sought to add the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) into the complaint filed by the group of businessman Jose de Venecia III.
The agreement had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Baguio City Representative Mauricio Domogan and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said the motion for intervention and the two impeachment complaints were covered by the constitutional provision on the one year ban, where an impeachment complaint could not be filed against the same official.
"Nomenclature cannot excuse itself to be free from the one year ban, we are not being technical here," Domogan said.
Representative Matias Defensor, chairman of the justice committee, expressed the same view, saying that the committee can entertain only one complaint.
Bayan Muna party list Representative Teodoro Casiño said the committee has the option to consolidate and amend the complaints, "just like in the court of law."
The committee on justice is meeting for the second day to determine whether the De Venecia complaint was sufficient in substance, a day after ruling that it was sufficient in form.
Defensor called the hearing to order at 10 a.m.
De Venecia III, son of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., had said that the real battle would be in determining the sufficiency of substance of the complaint. Using its numbers, administration allies have junked the last three impeachment complaints against the President because of insufficiency in substance.
Anti-Arroyo forces were among those spotted in the crowd such as retired general Fortunato Abat, Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement, and former social welfare secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman.