• SC’s venture in poll protest puts impeachment on drawing board


    The Supreme Court’s sudden change on stance on electoral protest has kept the planned filing of impeachment raps against the Supreme Court justices on the drawing board, a House leader said Monday.

    Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list, who served as prosecutors during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, made the disclosure in light of his House Resolution that Umali filed to reiterate the sole jurisdiction of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) on electoral protests against House members who are proclaimed winners.

    The Supreme Court found itself at odds against with Congress again when it unseated Rep. Regina Reyes of Marinduque on grounds of American citizenship even if Reyes—a proclaimed winner—is under sole jurisdiction of the HRET as provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

    “My Resolution on the HRET has already 127 signatories and I am the 128th [to sign]. That is more than one-third of the House. I can’t say that this number is the same number of lawmakers supporting my call for impeachment, but this [support for my Resolution]gives our Speaker and other leaders of the House the ammunition to defend the institution; that to take the position that HRET has the sole mandate to decide on electoral protest cases is the right thing to do,” Umali said in a chance interview.

    At least one-third of the House members should support the impeachment complaint for it to prosper and take the impeachable official before the Senate impeachment court.

    “Impeachment is on the drawing board. It is in the works. Since today is my yearender meeting with the Committee on Energy, I will have more time to go around and discuss this with my colleagues and Speaker [Belmonte]. We can’t be manhandled by the Supreme Court, especially if they are flip-flopping,” Umali pointed out.

    “This [filing of Resolution]is something that I felt I needed to do to give a wake up call to the magistrates who are despotic in their ways, emasculating the powers not only of Congress but even of the Executive,” Umali added.

    Colmenares then cited that in the past, the Supreme Court has tossed electoral protests questioning the qualifications of individuals in representing marginalized groups to HRET, as what happened to the electoral protest lodged by Bayan Muna against former Reps. Gen. Jovito Palparan of Bantay party-list and Juan Miguel Arroyo of Ang Galing Pinoy party-list.

    This previous tack was in contrast in the case of Reyes, the opponent of former Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque who is the son of Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco.

    “We were really surprised. I don’t see any reason why there is a sudden change on the part of the Supreme Court. It would not be unreasonable for the people to think that this might have been influenced by that [fact that Reyes’ opponent was Justice Velasco’s son],” Colmenares said in a separate interview.

    “Impeachment is both a political and legal process. It is the only accountability mechanism for the Supreme Court justices. If we see that it has merits and supporting it is the right thing to do, then we’ll support it,” Colmenares added. LLANESCA T. PANTI



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