Lawmaker worried over quick dismissal of impeachment cases vs SC justices

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — An opposition lawmaker said expediting the impeachment complaints against seven Supreme Court justices might mean immediate dismissal to clear the calendar for legislative work.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said there is an implied consideration in House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's statement that she wanted the impeachment complaints disposed of so these would not hinder the legislative agenda.

He said hearing the impeachment complaints in the justice committee would not interfere with the performance of other committees insofar as legislative work is concerned.

"The power of the House to initiate and prosecute impeachment complaints is a mandate of the Constitution, and it has to be performed by the House together with its legislative functions. So I would not say that it would impede on the legislative process because you remember, with respect to the investigation on the complaint of Gadon, it took months for the committee to hear the testimonies of witnesses etcetera," Lagman said.

The seven justices voted in favor of the quo warranto petition against then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Opposition lawmakers who filed the complaints said the justices violated the Constitution which states the Chief Justice can only be removed from office by impeachment. A quo warranto challenges the authority of an official to hold office.

House Majority Leader Nonoy Andaya said the impeachment proceedings will not affect the legislative agenda.

He said lawmakers can take on various tasks at the same time.

"This will have no effect on the legislative agenda of the House. Magaling naman sa multitasking ang Congress [Congress is good at multitasking]," he said.

For his part, House Justice Committee Chairman Doy Leachon said the complaints will be handled with utmost impartiality.

"Expediting is different from dismissing. The only thing the Speaker would mean in saying we have to expedite the termination and disposition of this case is precisely, one, it's a budget season. Second, there are other more important legislative priorities set forth by the President in his State of the Nation Address and the House of Congress should definitely attend to that," he said.

Leachon added, "The complainants should not be worried about the outright dismissal, unless the cases filed are without utter or devoid of merit. But what I can assure them, and with guarantee them, that as long as I am here, with the 55 members under my watch, can definitely say that we will deal with these cases with utmost impartiality."

Meanwhile, Leachon said his committee is inclined to consolidate the seven complaints.

This means lawmakers will only have to vote once for all complaints when they determine sufficiency in form and sufficiency in substance.