De Lima hits House panel’s ‘mindless kowtowing’ to Duterte
Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday criticized the House of Representatives committee on justice for supposedly railroading the junking of the first impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The day we merely pay lip service to the checks and balance in our political system, instead of living up to the spirit of this republican principle, is the day we lose our democracy,” De Lima said in a statement.
“It is yet another sad day for our country and our democracy when the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives railroaded the consideration of the impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo R. Duterte, by hastily dismissing it on the fictitious ground that its proponent, MAGDALO Representative Gary C. Alejano, who was not even afforded the opportunity to present his witnesses and evidence, lacked personal knowledge of the facts constituting the complaint,” she added.
The House justice panel on Monday declared the impeachment complaint sufficient in form but insufficient in substance, with most members noting that Alejano did not have “personal knowledge” of the high crimes being accused against Duterte.
But De Lima, citing the Constitution and the impeachment complaints against former President Joseph Estrada and former Chief Justice Renato Corona, said that lawmakers who filed the impeachment were not required to have personal knowledge of the articles of impeachment.
She noted that Alejano “properly complied” with the lower chamber’s rules of procedure on impeachment proceedings, adding that members of the justice committee “should not yet determine the weight and sufficiency of evidence.”
Rule 3, Section 4, of the Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Proceedings in the House of Representatives provides that “[t]he requirement of substance is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee.”
“To impose such a requirement is to transform this critical and constitutional process of exacting the accountability of the highest official in the land into an exercise, not just in futility, but in mere window dressing: there to perform no other function than to fool the Filipino people, and to make a lie out of the principle that ‘Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them,’” De Lima said.
“And yet – in another display of disregard for the rule of law and mindless kowtowing to Malacañang – members of a co-equal branch of government, in this case the members of the House Justice Committee led by the House Majority Floor Leader, required that Cong. Alejano only present matters on which he has personal knowledge, even when no law or rules require the same. What is required at this stage is merely a determination that the complaint is sufficient in form and in substance,” she added.
The detained senator said the dismissal of the complaint was a “testament to the failure of the House to perform its duty to keep the executive powers in check, when congressmen prevented a legitimate effort to hold the President accountable for his actions.”
“What is clear to us now is that the President’s allies in the House of Representatives are willing to ignore the rule of law, the bounds of fair play, and any semblance of professional decency in order to protect, however irrationally, their principal,” De Lima added.
The complaint would have been subjected to a plenary vote had the committee found it sufficient in substance. A one-third vote of the 292-member House is needed to automatically send the complaint to the Senate for trial.
Malacañang has welcomed the dismissal of the complaint, calling the allegations “rehashed, trumped-up charges aimed at undermining the duly constituted government.” JE/rga
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