Solon vows House jurisdiction in Leonen impeachment process
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will insist on its exclusive jurisdiction over the impeachment case against Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, and will not allow a repeat of what happened to ousted former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, a lawmaker said on Thursday.
Sereno was impeached via quo warranto petition last May 11, 2018 for lack of proven integrity for failing to file her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) when she was a law professor at University of the Philippines.
“I believe that the Supreme Court will not commit the same mistake of having quo warranto against impeachable officials because under the constitution only the House will impeach and only the Senate will remove. I was not a member of the House in the Sereno impeachment but I believe that the impeachment process should be done exclusively by the House of Representatives,” said House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.
“So that is my stand. That will be my stand now that I sit in the committee that the constitution only provides one mechanism that the rules of court on quo warranto. Only the constitutional hearing in the House of Representatives and in the Senate,” he added.
“So therefore, we [House] assure that we will insist in the committee that we will have exclusive jurisdiction, in this particular case [ouster complaint against Leonen], will not happen to what happened to former chief Justice Sereno,” he further said.
Sereno was the only constitutional officer removed from office without an impeachment process in Congress.
Leonen is currently facing an ouster complaint filed by Edwin Cordevilla, Secretary General of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, who was assisted by lawyer Larry Gadon, who also filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno in 2017.
The complaint against Leonen was endorsed by Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Angelo Marcos Barba.
The complainant alleged that Leonen “clearly lacks integrity because he failed to file his SALN.”
It cited a newspaper column which accused Leonen of failure to file SALN for 15 years.
The complainant 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.
Rodriguez, vice chair of the House of Representatives’ justice panel, previously said that the impeachment proceedings against Leonen will start in 2021.