The House Committee on Justice may start hearing the impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista on Wednesday, September 13.
The complaints were referred to the committee yesterday.
“The two impeachment cases against Bautista and Sereno were both read in the plenary, we will schedule it simultaneously, but hear it one at a time,” Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said.
“Maybe Wednesday. Because some of the members (of the panel) are busy,” Umali, who leads the House justice committee, said.
Former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio filed the impeachment complaint against Bautista, accusing him of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
“Bautista culpably violated the Constitution and/or betrayed the public trust when he failed to truthfully, accurately, or completely disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth,” they alleged.
Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia, had claimed that he amassed nearly P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth.
Rep. Abraham Tolentino of Cavite, Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu, and Rep. Harry Roque Jr. of Kabayan party-list endorsed the complaint against Bautista.
An impeachment complaint is deemed filed only when “verified” or endorsed by at least one House member.
Twenty-five lawmakers endorsed the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno by lawyer Larry Gadon.
He accused the magistrate of culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, “other high crimes” and betrayal of public trust for allegedly manipulating the Judicial and Bar Council. She was also accused of failing to truthfully disclose her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
A second impeachment complaint against Sereno was also endorsed by 16 lawmakers.
The complaint was filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption chief Dante Jimenez and Eligio Mallari of the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, who accused Sereno of undermining the powers of the Supreme Court en banc.
Umali said they will require Sereno to respond after lawmakers have determined if the complaints against her are sufficient in form and substance.
“After that will come the regular preliminary investigation type of proceeding,” he said.
The Constitution provides the House of Representatives exclusive power to initiate impeachment cases. A vote of one-third of the House members is needed for the case to be endorsed to the Senate which, under the Constitution, has the sole power to try and decide impeachment cases.