Another SC justice faces impeachment trial

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2012 12:10 AM | Updated as of Feb 07 2012 09:59 PM

Sources: House to find del Castillo impeachment sufficient in grounds

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate is facing the possibility of tackling 2 impeachment cases against 2 sitting Supreme Court justices within the same year.

This possibility became probable as 2 sources told ABS-CBN News that the House is also likely to impeach Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo for betrayal of public trust over allegations he plagiarized a Supreme Court decision he penned.

A trusted ABS-CBN News source said committee hearings on Tuesday morning have been cancelled to allow many congressmen to proceed to the justice committee hearing so they can overwhelmingly vote to find the del Castillo complaint sufficient in grounds and later on, find probable cause at the committee level.

The same source said this could pave the way for the plenary to later on impeach del Castillo and send the complaint for trial at the Senate.

The source said the del Castillo vote may match the final vote on the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona which had 188 endorsers.

The source said many congressmen are afraid that if they do not vote, their districts may not get any entitlements.

A second trusted ABS-CBN News source confirmed that the instructions from "higher ups" have been to vote to find the complaint sufficient in grounds, but there is no clear instruction yet on what to do next.

The source said there is some confusion among House members as to how to treat the del Castillo complaint, with many turned off as it comes on the heels of the impeachment of corona.

The same source said that when the del Castillo complaint was filed, the magistrate still had some allies who were trying to save the associate justice.

Del Castillo supposedly counts 11 congressmen as fraternity brothers, including influential Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales and accounts committee chair Florencio Noel of the An Waray party-list.

The del Castillio complaint was filed in December 2010 by 11 congressmen.

House rules require the justice committee to dispose of it in 60 session days.

The House calendar says the committee has 5 session days left. Session days are not counted in terms of calendar days, but whenever sessions are adjourned and not just suspended. For some weeks now, sessions have just been suspended.

It took a back seat to the impeachment of Corona and former Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez, as well as congressional investigations into auto smuggling in Mindanao as well as the land grabbing case in Quezon City.

The justice committee is composed of and led by the same prosecutors in the Corona trial.

Earlier, Gonzales said a del Castillo trial may not be as contentious as the Corona trial since it will most likely be prosecuted with documentary submissions and minimal witness testimonies as with the Corona trial.