A no reply from Ombudsman will hasten impeach hearings
MANILA, Philippines—The justice committee in the House of Representatives is bent on pushing through with a hearing next week to vote if the impeachment complaint against Merceditas Gutierrez has grounds, Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., the chairman of the committee said.
Gutierrez indicated over a television interview she would not answer the charges in the committee but file instead a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court, which earlier dismissed her petition questioning the complaints.
Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, vice chairman of the justice committee, said the committee could speed up proceedings if Gutierrez would not reply because it could proceed with the voting on the grounds and probable cause.
“If she doesn’t participate, we may finish it on two hearing days,” Fariñas said in a text message.
The committee on Tuesday agreed to ask Gutierrez to file a reply in three days upon the receipt of the notice from the panel.
“The committee will proceed with the voting on the grounds for impeachment on Tuesday next week with or without the answer from the Ombudsman as she was already given more than enough time,” Tupas said in a text message.
Tupas said that after the committee decides if there are grounds for impeachment, it will allot three days for clarificatory hearings and then will vote if there is probable cause.
“Under the rules, if she fails to answer then she is deemed to have denied the allegations against her and can proceed with the investigation,” according to Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Representative Neptali Gonzales II.
Deputy Speaker and Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III said the proceedings in the House is similar to a preliminary investigation by the prosecutor “where an accused need not file his or her counter-affidavit to the complaint-affidavit.”
“The important thing is that he or she was given an opportunity to do so,” Tanada added.
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