House justice panel vice chair: Hearings on Leonen impeachment could start in 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The hearings on the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen could start by next year as there is already no more time to tackle it since it is only around one week left before Congress adjourns its session for the holiday season, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said Wednesday.
Congress is scheduled for a recess on December 18, Rodriguez, who serves as vice chair of the House justice panel, noted.
“I think there will be no more time. We will already have our recess sometime on December 18 so we don’t have any material time at this time,” he said in a media forum.
“So therefore probably it will reach next year for the determination of form and substance. Looking at our calendar, I cannot see that we can start the hearings this Christmas season,” he added.
Congress will resume its session on January 18, 2021.
Explaining the process of impeachment proceedings, Rodriguez said that after the impeachment complaint has been filed with the House Secretary General, it will be referred to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Velasco has 10 days from receipt to have it included in the order of business.
The complaint will be referred to the House committee on justice, which will be tasked to determine if it complies with form and substance requirements.
Once the complaint is found sufficient in form and substance, the formal hearings can already start, Rodriguez said.
“Probably we can decide on the form, we can decide on the substance. But the actual hearing of the committee will be next year,” he said.
The House cannot rush its deliberations on the complaint against Leonen because he is a member of the highest court of the land, Rodriguez noted.
He assured that the committee would give Leonen ample time and opportunity to defend himself against allegations against him.
An impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen has been filed at the House of Representatives over “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”
The impeachment complaint was filed by Edwin Cordevilla, Secretary General of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, who was assisted by lawyer Larry Gadon. It was endorsed by Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Angelo Marcos Barba.
The complaint read that Leonen “clearly lacks integrity because he failed to file his Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SALN),” citing a newspaper column which claimed that Leonen failed to file his SALN for 15 years.
It added that Leonen has also been “negligent and incompetent” for supposedly failing to dispose of 37 cases in the Supreme Court in violation of the constitutional mandate that cases should be decided within 24 months from the time it is submitted for resolution.
For his part, Leonen said he is confident that the House of Representatives members will “do the right thing” on the impeachment complaint filed against him. [ac]
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