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Claim: Two Cabinet officials of the previous Duterte administration, former health secretary Francisco Duque III and former energy secretary Alfonso Cusi, were found guilty by the Senate of graft, corruption, and malfeasance.
Why we fact-checked this: The claim can be found in a November 6 Facebook post that read: “For the first time, two ( 2 ) Duterte Cabinet secretaries ( Cusi & Duque) were investigated, found guilty by the Senate of graft, corruption, malfeasances, misfeasances.”
The post was also shared in some Facebook groups, such as in the group, “Filipino Patriots for Good Governance” on November 6 and in the group, “Concerned Citizens: Crusade Against Corruption For Good Governance CAC4GG” on November 7.
The facts: There are no recent news reports about any supposed declarations by the Senate finding Duque and Cusi guilty of the acts mentioned in the Facebook post.
Furthermore, the Senate cannot find a public official guilty of criminal acts in the way that the judiciary does, in accordance with the separation of powers of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
It is the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, not the Senate, that has jurisdiction over graft and corruption cases involving certain public officials, including members of the Cabinet.
Senate’s powers: Meanwhile, the Senate has the power to remove from office certain public officials found guilty of the following violations, in accordance with Article XI, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution: culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.
However, the only officials who may be removed from office by the Senate convening as an impeachment court are the following: the President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, members of the Constitutional Commissions (Civil Service Commission, Commission on Elections, and Commission on Audit), and the Ombudsman. As members of the Cabinet, Duque and Cusi are not among the officials who may be impeached by the Senate. (READ: FAST FACTS: How does impeachment work?)
No court verdicts: Both Cusi and Duque face complaints over their alleged involvement in graft and corruption, but the two officials have not been convicted by the courts.
Lawmakers have recommended the filing of criminal charges against Duque and several others over alleged corruption in Philhealth and the anomalous pandemic-related deals with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.
Percival Bueser is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.
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