Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro has appealed for support from his colleagues in his planned filing of impeachment raps against Supreme Court justice over the High Court’s adverse ruling on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and disregard of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).
Umali rued the High Court for ruling PDAF—the Congressional Discretionary Fund—as unconstitutional this year, considering that it already ruled in favor of PDAF’s legality twice in the past. Likewise, Umali fumed over the Supreme Court’s ruling disqualifying Rep. Regina Reyes of Marinduque after her proclamation as winner on the ground of her being an American citizen.
Prior to the High Court’s adverse ruling on PDAF, each House member is entitled to P70 million of PDAF every year for the perusal of their constituents.
As for the HRET, it is mandated by the Constitution to solely resolve election protests involving candidates who were already proclaimed winners by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“Filing an impeachment complaint is not easy. I need the support of my colleagues in defending the institution called Congress. I hope you can join me in this fight. We need to show the Court that it can’t usurp the power of Congress which was vested to us by the Constitution,” Umali said in plenary hall.
The grounds of impeachment include: culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. These grounds are exclusive and offenses not falling within these parameters shall not be sufficient for impeachment purposes.
“The betrayal of public trust is the one I intend to pursue, but the culpable violation of the Constitution can also be considered because of the Supreme Court’s flip-flopping on PDAF and dishonor of the HRET,” Umali added.
Umali and Reyes are party-mates under the ruling Liberal Party chaired by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
At least one-third of the House members, now at least 292 strong, should vote in support the impeachment complaint to put the impeachable officer in an impeachment trial before the Senate impeachment court.
During the 15th Congress, the House impeached then Chief Justice Renato Corona based on eight Articles of Impeachment namely: (1) betraying public trust for partiality involving the Arroyo administration; (2) committing culpable violation of the constitution/betrayal of public trust for failure to truthfully disclose his wealth on his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth as required by the law; (3) committing culpable violation of the constitution/betrayal of public trust for flip-flopping decisions of the Supreme Court in final and executory cases and appointment of his wife Cristina to a government post; (4) committing culpable violation of the constitution/betrayal of public trust for the High Court’s issuance of status quo ante order on the House of Representatives during the impeachment process of then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, (5) betrayal of public trust because of the Supreme Court’s flip flopping rulings on the creation of 16 new cities and promotion of Dinagat Islands into a province; (6) betrayal of public trust for investigating Supreme Court Justice Mariano del Castillo for plagiarism and clearing Castillo in the process; (7) betrayal of public trust for issuing
a Temporary Restraining Order on the Watch List Orders on former President and Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga and her husband Jose Miguel and (8) betrayal of public trust/committing graft and corruption for refusal to account for Judicial Development Fund and Special Allowance for the Judiciary collections.
Corona was eventually convicted by the Senate impeachment court of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution via a 20-3 vote in May 2012.
Prior to Corona’s impeachment, the House was also able to impeach then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, an appointee of former President Gloria Arroyo. LLANESCA T. PANTI