MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said there is no need for an impeachment trial should Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista resign from office ahead of the proceeding.
Pimentel said in an interview on dzBB on Thursday, October 12, that once Bautista has quit his post, he is considered a private citizen and an impeachment trial is no longer necessary.
“Let us say kung meron talaga siyang resignation letter – kasi wala pa naman kaming certified true copy noon – kung meron talagang resignation letter and then he is separated with the government service, wala na dapat. Stop na ang impeachment,” Pimentel said in an interview on dzBB on Thursday, October 12.
(Let us say, if he really has a resignation letter because we don’t have the certified true copy yet. If he really has that and he is separated with the government service, there should be no impeachment trial. The impeachment trial will be stopped.)
Bautista submitted his resignation letter to Malacañang effective end of the year. Hours after his announcement, however, the House of Representatives impeached him, overturning the resolution of the justice committee to junk the impeachment complaint against him.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the earliest time the chamber could consider the case against Bautista is by end November or the first week of December.
Should Bautista resign during the trial period, Pimentel said the proceeding would be stopped. The recourse left, he said, is to file charges against Bautista in court.
“Oo, stop na ‘yun, kasi ang aim ng impeachment ay alisin siya sa posisyon. Kung wala na siya sa posisyon wala nang dahilan para magtuloy (Yes, it will be stopped. The aim of the impeachment is to remove him from his position. If he is no longer in his position, there is no need for it to continue),” he said.
Delay in bills?
Pimentel earlier said the Senate is “ready” for an impeachment trial. On Thursday, he said the priority measures of the chamber, such as the 2018 national budget and the first package of the tax reform bill, would not be delayed.
“There will not be any delay because we will hold trial on days when we are off from legislative work. Trial will be on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays,” he said in a message to reporters.
“Hahanapan ng oras. Kasi siyempre, part ng job description namin ‘yan. Pag may inimpeach, kami ang uupong mga hukom or judges. Eh di hahanapan po ng oras,” he said in the radio interview.
(We will find the time. Of course, that’s part of our job description. When someone is impeached, we will sit as judges. So we will fit it in our schedule.)
Pimentel, as the Senate President, will sit as the presiding justice of the impeachment trial should it push through.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had a different view, saying it was “unavoidable” that the impeachment process would delay the chamber’s legislative work.
The Congress is on a session break until November 13, with two critical measures currently pending for the chamber’s approval.
Drilon said the proposed P3.77-trillion 2018 national budget is in the period of interpellation, with many controversial items yet to be tackled. He also noted that the proposed tax reform law is still in the period of amendments.
“Our calendar is too tight and the impeachment case will eat up a lot of our time when we resume session in November. Legislative work will be seriously affected and that is a matter that the leadership should highly consider,” Drilon said. – Rappler.com