House to ‘prioritize’ reviewing Duterte impeachment complaint

Mara Cepeda
House to ‘prioritize’ reviewing Duterte impeachment complaint
'Tapusin namin kaagad to [do] away with it or to get it moving as the case may be,' says House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the sheer number of administration-allied lawmakers, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said the House of Representatives will prioritize the impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Fariñas said he is set to meet with House justice committee chairperson Reynaldo Umali on Tuesday afternoon, May 2, to discuss the timeline for the impeachment proceedings.

“I will meet with [the] chairman later. Nakipag-appointment sa akin dahil we will give this priority also, ‘di ba? Eh kung ‘yung Dayan investigation noon, ilang oras tayo dito? Umaabot tayo ng 10 oras just to tackle it eh. Ganito rin ito,” said Fariñas, who was referring to the hours-long congressional probe into the New Bilibid Prison narcotics trade they conducted late last year.

(I will meet with the chairman later. He made an appointment with me because we will give this priority also, right? How many hours did we spend on the Dayan investigation? We spent 10 hours tackling that. We’ll do the same here.)

Among the witnesses during the probe was Ronnie Dayan, alleged bagman and ex-lover of former justice secretary and now detained Senator Leila de Lima.

“Tapusin namin kaagad to [do] away with it or to get it moving as the case may be,” added Fariñas.

(We’ll assess it right away to either do away with it or to get it moving as the case may be.)

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano filed the first impeachment complaint against Duterte last March 16, while the 17th Congress was on a break. (READ: Highlights: Impeachment complaint vs Duterte)

Now that session has resumed, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has 10 session days to calendar it. The committee on rules will bring the complaint to the plenary, which will endorse it to the committee on justice, tasked to determine whether the complaint is sufficient in form and substance.

“One member can say, ‘I move that we find the complaint sufficient in form.’ Or mayroon namang mag-move (a member could move) in a negative manner. ‘I move that we find the complaint insufficient in form.’ Magbobotohan ‘yan. Kung ano ‘yung mas maraming boto, ‘yun ang masusunod (There will be a vote. The motion that will get more votes will be the one followed),” said Fariñas.

The impeachment complaint may also skip the justice panel if at least 1/3 of the House affirms the complaint.

If that happens, the complaint will be forwarded to the Senate for an impeachment trial presided by the Chief Justice. (READ: Duterte impeachment complaint ‘a fight for all Filipinos,’ says Alejano)

A 2/3 vote of all members of the Senate would convict the President and remove him from office. (READ: FAST FACTS: How does impeachment work?)

Duterte counts at least 267 out of the 293 lawmakers as his allies. (READ: Suarez-led House minority won’t back Duterte impeachment)

Complaint vs Robredo

According to Fariñas, lawmakers will give the same treatment to the looming impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo.

“Ganoon din ‘yun, depende kung may mag-e-endorse. Kung walang mag-e-endorse, ibabasura ‘yun,” said Fariñas.

(The same process will be followed, but that depends if someone will endorse the complaint. If no one will endorse, we will junk the complaint.)

Alvarez is mulling filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo for alleged betrayal of public trust for her video message on Duterte’s war on drugs played on the sidelines of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna, Austria.

Marcos loyalists Oliver Lozano and Melchor Chavez drafted an impeachment complaint against Robredo over the same video and asked Alvarez to endorse it.

A group of pro-Duterte lawyers and bloggers calling themselves the “Impeach VP Leni Team” is set to submit their own impeachment complaint against the Vice President on Tuesday. (READ: Duterte on impeachment vs Robredo: ‘Stop it’)

The 1987 Constitution allows any Filipino citizen to initiate an impeachment complaint, but it must be endorsed by a lawmaker for it to be considered filed at the House of Representatives. (READ: Impeachment complaints vs Duterte, Robredo ‘doomed,’ says LP leader– Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.