MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives justice committee is "perfectly within its power and prerogative" to proceed with the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez amid the Ombudsman's pending motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court.
This was the opinion given by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the justice committee's decision to proceed with the proceedings today and its subsequent voting on the sufficiency of grounds of 2 impeachment complaints against Gutierrez.
Voting 41-12 and 42-12, the committee found sufficient grounds in the first complaint by former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros Baraquel, et al, and the second complaint bu Renato Reyes Jr., et al, respectively in today's hearing.
"It's very clear in the Constitution that the House of Representatives has the sole power to initiate impeachment proceedings and the Senate has the exclusive and sole power also to try and decide impeachment case(s)," de Lima said.
"What's happening with our SC?"
De Lima, meantime, reiterated her position on the High Court's previous issuance of a status quo ante order in December which momentarily put on hold the House's proceedings.
"With due respect to the Supreme Court, it should not have issued the status quo ante order. And there is even this controversy now, yung sinasabi ng 3 justices na let's not vote kasi hindi pa nila nakikita (Ombudsman petition). One can't help wondering, 'What's happening with our SC?'" de Lima said.
She added: "There are these issues on plagiarism, the flip-flopping on the League of Cities issue 3 or 4 times. And then acts of impropriety like the one revealed by Mr. Lauro Vizconde and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption president Dante Jimenez. And then you have this SQA without the benefit of study and consideration of the 60-page (Gutierrez) petition with justices themselves being deprived of that opportunity to take a look on the allegations of the petition to determine whether status quo ante order should be issued or not. Nakakadismaya among us lawyers if we see a Supreme Court hounded by all those issues."