The critics of President Benigno Aquino 3rd are free to file impeachment raps against the Chief Executive if they believe the words of embattled Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. that the President tried to get Revilla’s vote for the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, a House leader said Tuesday.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd made the stance a day after Revilla—who is facing P224.5 million plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman over the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam—accused President Aquino of asking him a favor by voting for the conviction of Corona of betrayal of public trust for undeclared wealth before the Senate impeachment court.
“If they think what happened was an impeachable offense, then the proper thing to do it file an impeachment complaint here in the House [of Representatives]because it is this body, thru the House Committee on Justice, which decides which is an impeachable offense. But they need to file the impeachment compliant first and it must be endorsed by a member of the House,” Gonzales said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.
Gonzales was referring to the constitutional duty of the House to initiate impeachment proceedings.
“For so long that there is an endorser, the impeachment complaint can be referred to the House Committee on Justice. But you must have personal knowledge of the complaint. Otherwise, it will just be hearsay. But if there is no complaint, there will only be a high school debate on what is impeachable or not,” Gonzales, a lawyer, argued.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. of Quezon City and House Games and Amusements panel Chair Rep. Elpidio Barzaga os Dasmariñas, Cavite, for their part, expressed doubts that the words of the beleaguered Revilla would be enough to initiate an impeachment proceeding against President Aquino.
“Do we accept what he said at face value that the President talked to him to secure a vote for Corona’s conviction? That is disputed in the first place because it has been denied by the President and the [Interior and Local Government] Secretary Mar [Roxas],” Barzaga added, referring to Revilla’s claim that it was Roxas who fetched him for the meeting with the President.
In closing, Gonzales and Barzaga invoked that it all boils down to Revilla’s decision on the Corona case, regardless if Revilla’s claims that he was forced to vote for Corona’s conviction or otherwise.
“What is important to me is his [Revilla’s] statement that he decided to convict then Chief Justice Corona because that was the correct thing to do based on his appreciation of the circumstances [that was unearthed in the Corona trial],” Gonzales said.
“The rule of law is due process. We need to hear the response of the person alluded to. It has happened and now it is up to the media or the Filipino people to choose whose words to believe in,” Barzaga added. LLANESCA T. PANTI