11 senators have swing votes in impeachment trial
MANILA - With the House of Representatives almost certain to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, all eyes are now on the Senate which will hear the charges against her.
The Constitution says a two-thirds vote of all senators is needed to convict and unseat a constitutional official like Gutierrez.
This could be either 15 votes based on 23 sitting senators, or 16 votes based on 24 Senate seats.
But whether 15 or 16, it's a tall order for the Aquino administration and other critics of the Ombudsman.
On the other hand, Gutierrez only needs 9 senators to be acquitted.
Based on present political alliances, there are 7 senators expected to support the Presdident's call to impeach.
They are Franklin Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III, Ralph Recto and Francis Pangilinan, all from the Liberal Party, and administration allies Sergio Osmeña, Francis Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV.
It could go up to 8, if Panfilo Lacson surfaces in time for the trial most likely to start in May.
Meanwhile, there are 4 senators allied with former President now Congresswoman Gloria Arroyo, whom the Ombudsman is said to be protecting.
If alliances hold, Gutierrez could get support from Manuel "Lito" Lapid, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Joker Arroyo, as well as Miriam Defensor Santiago, who earlier said she sees no basis to impeach the Ombudsman.
That leaves 11 senators and votes to be pursued by both pro- and anti-Gutierrez camps in the coming months.
But political alliances alone will not determine how a senator would vote.
The weight of the evidence, if any, would also spell a conviction or acquittal for Gutierrez.