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Why the House is still not acting on Leonen impeachment

The House of Representatives is not yet compelled to act on the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court (SC) Justice Marvic Leonen due to its internal rules on how the number of session days are officially computed. 

This came to light after Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor asked about the status of the impeachment complaint during the plenary session on Monday, February 22 – over two months since Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Angelo Marcos Barba endorsed the complaint.

"So I'd just like to know the status, because we have gone beyond the days as stipulated in the rules. And I just want to know not only for myself but for the honorable Barba what is the status of the impeachment case filed before the House of Representatives," Defensor said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Barba himself was present at the plenary hall when Defensor made the query. 

Under the House rules, the Speaker should refer an impeachment complaint to the plenary's Order of Business within 10 session days. The committee on rules – which calendars what measures are taken up in the plenary – then has 3 more session days to refer the impeachment to the committee on justice, which conducts the hearings. 

Strictly speaking, 22 session days have already passed since Barba endorsed on December 7, 2020, the impeachment complaint filed against Leonen by a group claiming to push for good government.

But officially, only 3 session days have passed, according to Senior Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla.

Why? Because the House has just been repeatedly suspending and resuming the session these past weeks, instead of adjourning the proceedings at the end of each session day. 

"The rules state that there are 10 session days within which we can refer the matter to the committee on justice. However, we are only on our third session day as we have not adjourned, or we have only adjourned twice before this session day. So this is only our third session," said Remulla.

He then assured Defensor that the impeachment complaint against Leonen would be referred to the committee on justice "when the time is right for it."

Remulla, however, did not specify any timeline.

Barba, the endorser of the Leonen impeachment, is the cousin of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, who has an axe to grind against Leonen. 

On February 16, the SC unanimously dismissed Marcos' electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo – a high-profile case where Leonen was officer-in-charge.

Marcos had tried but failed to force Leonen to inhibit from the VP election case. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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