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No ‘creeping’ impeachment, solon assures

By: Ben Rosario

“Creeping” impeachment that once led to the removal from office of a sitting president may no longer worry Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista.

Contrary to the legal opinion aired by Mindoro Oriental Rep. Rey Umali, the impeachment cases may no longer be railroaded and elevated swiftly to the Senate even if 98 congressmen, comprising one third of the House membership, will endorse it prior to referral to the Committee on Justice that Umali chairs.

Asst. Minority Leader and ABS Partylist Rep. Eugene de Vera said the impeachment rules approved by the House of Representatives has gotten rid of a creeping impeachment schemes that may result to the removal from office of constitutional officials.

Umali has claimed that automatically sending the complaints to the Senate impeachment court remains a possibility if endorsers reach 98 for each complaint within a period of 30 days since filing.

However, De Vera cited Rule IV, Section 13 paragraph 2 of the impeachment rules specifically providing that an impeachment complaint/resolution, “must, at the time of filing, be verified and sworn to before the Secretary General” by congressmen constituting one third of the House membership.

“The word ‘must’ is mandatory. Hence, to automatically constitute into the Articles of Impeachment, the said 1/3 endorsement as verified and sworn to by the members should have been made at the time of filing before the Secretary General,” said De Vera, a lawyer.

De Vera added: “In the case of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, only 25 endorsed it at the time of filing and was now forwarded to the Speaker.”

He pointed out that 73 additional endorsers “at this point will not convert said complaint into the articles of impeachment.”

“It goes go the process of hearing it out before the Committee on Justice,” the opposition lawmaker stressed.