DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 May) – The Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives dismissed the impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for insufficiency in substance.
At least 42 committee members voted in favor of the motion raised by Rep. Doy Leachon (Oriental Mindoro, 1st Dist.) with Rep. Fredenil Castro (Capiz, 2nd Dist.) as co-movant to dismiss the impeachment complaint.
Rep. Rodolfo C. Fariñas (Ilocos Norte, 1st Dist.) questioned Alejano’s sources of facts such as news reports, affidavits of self-confessed Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas, a former police officer, and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Matobato and Lascañas both appeared in Senate hearings to testify against Duterte on the allegation of government-sponsored killings of criminals committed when he was still mayor of Davao City.
Last March 16, Alejano filed the impeachment complaint against Duterte on the following grounds: culpably violating the Constitution, engaging in bribery, betraying the public trust, committing graft and corruption, and other high crimes.
During the hearing, Fariñas questioned the integrity of the sources being cited by Alejano by asking him if he even has any “personal knowledge”, or one derived from his own perception, to any of the grounds he stated in his complaints.
Alejano, however, insisted that the “authentic records” are culled from open sources and public pronouncements of the President.
“I confirm that I am not the witness. I confirm that in my own personal knowledge based on testimonies and affidavits of the witnesses I have, I went through the records and I have personal knowledge,” he said.
But Fariñas countered by saying that he cannot count it as “his own personal knowledge” because newspapers and the affidavits, unless cross-checked, are mere “hearsays.” For this, Fariñas said, Alejano may face an ethics case.
“Clearly, it is not of your ‘personal knowledge’. You are testifying on what Matobato and Lascañas said,” stressed Fariñas.
He pointed out that if the complaint is approved, they will “look stupid in the Senate because we will be bringing evidences based on hearsays.”
Fariñas said the filing of the impeachment complaint seems to be only a propaganda against the administration because Sen. Trillanes has also done it in the Senate. “But nothing happened there, and now you’re doing it here,” he added.
Leachon said the Justice Committee should not permit that it be used as an instrument to cause disturbance in the country, as he added the complaint cannot stand.
He said he also found the impeachment complaint “constitutionally infringed” and warrants outright dismissal out of defective verification.
VP’s honest assessment
Earlier in the day, Vice President Leni Robredo said the impeachment complained would not prosper because only very few House members are supporting it.
Robredo went to Davao City to grace the “Leap V: 2017 National Indigenous Peoples Education Festival” at the University of the Southeastern Philippines (USEP) Mintal Campus.
Duterte enjoys the support of the majority at the House of Representatives, with the so-called “supermajority bloc” in the Lower chamber.
“I think it will not prosper in the sense that the impeachment is political process. Our president is very popular,” Robredo said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)