Duterte immune to impeachment for 1 year

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) The House Committee on Justice unanimously approved the committee report dismissing the impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano against President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday.

This means the President would be immune from any impeachment complaint for a year, as stated in the Constitution.

According to Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali, who chairs the House Justice Committee, Alejano has one year to prepare "substance" for another complaint.

"The one-year ban rule started on May 9 when we started our impeachment proceedings. Now he can come back and lay the basis for all those things he wants us to appreciate now, even if it's haphazardly," Umali said in an interview on Monday, before the House committee hearing.

Read more: House committee effectively dismisses impeachment complaint vs. Duterte

In the committee hearing which lasted for only 10 minutes, lawmakers approved the panel's vote on the complaint last May 15, citing its sufficiency in form but lack in substance.

The committee report is expected to be taken up in the plenary for approval.

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Umali also clarified that his recommendation to dismiss an impeachment complaint even at the level of insufficiency in form will not necessarily make impeachment impossible.

"What is important is that whoever will stand trial can really present his case with convincing evidence," Umali said.

Alejano's complaint was junked because lawmakers agreed that the impeachment complaint is only based on hearsay and not on personal knowledge.

Umali clarified that as a solon, Alejano had the responsibility to procure authenticated and duly-certified documents to support his claims, and not base it on media reports and comments from public officials.

"Kanya all hearsay and so we cannot move no, we cannot even ask him," Umali said.

Umali also criticized Alejano for presenting alleged documentation of the bank accounts of the Duterte family.

"Saan nya kinuha 'yun [Where did he get those documents]? And then he claims it is authenticated or authentic. How can that be authentic when the Bank Secrecy Law prohibits the divulging of those information, much more the record? So, clearly wala talagang pinanggagalingan [there is no reliable source]," he added.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.