Impeach raps vs SC’s Leonen referred to House justice committee
MANILA, Philippines — The impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen has been referred to the House committee on justice, five months after its filing.
The complaint was referred to the justice committee during Tuesday’s session after Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the impeachment call would be included in the order of business on the “explicit instructions” from Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
On Sunday, Romualdez, who chairs the House Committee on Rules, said the referral of the impeachment complaint against Leonen would be discussed by his committee then referred to the justice committee.
In a statement on Tuesday, Romualdez said the House “performed its constitutional duty” when it forwarded the complaint to the committee on justice.
He said that before the referral, he presided over the House committee on rules’ regular meeting where members “overwhelmingly” adopted the motion of Iloilo City Rep. Julienne Baronda to include the matter in the Calendar of Business.
He added that under Section 3, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, the House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.
Romualdez further noted that the impeachment complaint was “properly endorsed… in accordance with that constitutional provision.”
“The ball is now in the hands of the House Committee on Justice, ably chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente ‘Ching’ Veloso III who had served as Justice of the Court of Appeals,” he said.
“We believe that the Chairman and Members of the House of Committee on Justice will act judiciously on the impeachment complaint based on constitutional grounds and in accordance with established rules and practices,” the majority leader added.
Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin, vice-chairperson of the House justice panel, earlier explained that once the complaint has been referred to their panel, the committee still has to determine the sufficiency of the complaint both in form and in substance.
He added that once the committee determines sufficiency in the form and substance of the complaint, the panel still needs to get Leonen’s response regarding the impeachment call.
The impeachment complaint against Leonen was filed by Edwin Cordevilla, secretary-general of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, in December last year.
In filing the complaint, Cordevilla said Leonen “clearly lacks integrity because he failed to file his statement of assets and liabilities (SALN)” for 15 years during his tenure at the University of the Philippines.
The complaint was later endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, a cousin of former Senator Bongbong Marcos, who lodged a protest against Vice President Leni Robredo claiming he was cheated in the 2016 elections.
Responding to the issue, Leonen, who wrote the decision junking the election protest of Marcos against Robredo, urged Congress to not spend time on “false issues” raised by some individuals for “clearly personal or vindictive reasons.”
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