House to process Sereno impeach rap, says Alvarez

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2017 03:54 PM

MANILA - The House of Representatives will tackle the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Wednesday.

This, even as the complaint remains without a congressional endorser—a key requirement for any impeachment complaint to be validly initiated.

“Impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice, finile yun, ok. Pino-process namin ngayon doon, tinitingnan namin kung sufficient in form, kung sufficient in substance," Alvarez told ANC's Headstart.

Two private complainants, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, have filed separate impeachment complaints though these remain unendorsed by lawmakers.

The VACC had asked the Supreme Court for documents to support their impeachment complaint, and it was granted last week.

On Tuesday, the group amended its complaint to include documents sourced from the Court. Gadon is expected to do the same should the SC grant his requests.

Alvarez said the Sereno complaints may be tackled by the House Committee on Justice because of the documents from the high tribunal.

“Magkaka-committee hearing diyan especially now na yung Supreme Court nag-issue ng mga certified true copies ng lahat ng mga allegations ng complainant. So kailangan naming dinggin yun, maghi-hearing kami doon," he said in the interview.

Alvarez explained the House has to be discerning in tackling complaints, including those against Sereno, Ombudsman Conchita Caprio Morales and Vice President Leni Robredo. There are also talks about a possible complaint against Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista. 

Last year, the House dismissed an impeachment complaint against President Duterte.

Asked if he is encouraging an impeachment case against the VP even if Duterte said he is not supportive of it, Alvarez said he does not care what the chief executive thinks.

"Wala akong pakialam kung ano ang sasabihin ng Presidente. We are a separate branch of government," he said.

"Yung impeachment kasi, ayaw namin na magmukha naman kaming gago. Ipo-process namin, wala naman kaming ebidensya, it will not stand trial in an impeachment court, hindi ba? So nakakatawa naman kami roon. Kaya maghinay-hinay tayo diyan," he added.

Unlike Sereno's case, Alvarez noted that the impeachment rap against the Ombudsman does not include documents and only news clippings, which he said would be flimsy.

Alvarez explained that while impeachment at the Lower House maybe easy, the Senate—which will decide if the accused is guilty or not—is an entirely different ballgame. 

“Sa totoo lang, kung halimbawa, gusto lang namin i-impeach yung isang impeachable official, madali yun, may signatures lang na kailangan. Nasa majority kami, kaya lang, pagsampa niyan doon sa impeachment court, magmumukha kaming tanga doon. Ayokong mangyari naman yun," he said.