Justice Committee votes to proceed with Merci impeachment


Posted at Mar 01 2011 11:26 AM | Updated as of Mar 01 2011 09:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives Committee on Justice voted on Tuesday to proceed with the impeachment process against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, despite being derailed earlier by several lawmakers insisting otherwise.

After an almost an hour of bickering, 37 voted to proceed with the hearings on the sufficiency of the complaints filed against Gutierrez against 8 who said judicial courtesy must be upheld.

Gutierrez yesterday filed a motion for reconsideration to the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the lower House’s right to impeach a constitutional officer. The same ruling also subsequently lifted the status quo ante order on the impeachment hearings.

Alagad Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta moved earlier to have the proceedings stopped to give way for the high court to resolve with finality its decision on Gutierrez’s petition.

“She [Gutierrez] still has the period [to wait for final decision of the SC]…We’re trying to erase the notion of the public…We need to be objective and impartial,” he said.

Marcoleta was supported by Representatives Marc Cagas, Pedro Romualdo and Rodolfo Albano.

Rep. Reynaldo Umali, however, stressed that the lower House is bound to follow its obligation to finalize everything within 60 days. He said the period, notwithstanding a final SC order on the matter, is already running.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares also said there is no legal impediment anymore since the status quo ante order has been lifted. Citing Rules of Court, an interlocutory order such as the stay order, is not appealable, he said.

Romualdo insisted, however, that the motion for reconsideration of Gutierrez and the subsequent final SC order on the matter is “very basic.”

“There is nothing hypothetical here…There is a probability that the SC will still reverse the decision,” he said.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello stressed, however, that the lawmakers are merely using dilatory tactics.

“I think that no one can fault this committee…In deference to an equal branch of government, we already deferred the proceedings for 5 months…Let’s not be stopped by dilatory tactics,” he said.