Ombudsman impeach trial may take 6 months

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2011 01:07 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2011 09:18 PM

Tupas, et al to forward articles of impeachment to Senate today

MANILA, Philippines - House of Representatives Justice committee chairman Niel Tupas Jr. will lead several lawmakers in transmitting the approved articles of impeachment against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez before the Senate later this afternoon.

In an interview with ANC, Tupas said he will be joined by Representatives Lorenzo Tañada III, Rodolfo Fariñas and several more colleagues who will likely compose the Committee of 11 that will prosecute for the conviction of Gutierrez.

This will be a formal turnover following the historic voting in the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning.

This early, Tupas sees the process before the Senate to take 6 months to finish.

“It’s hard to tell, but based on the process during the impeachment process against [former President Joseph Estrada], it last about 2 months before it was aborted. They only tackled 2 of 4 cases. We’re talking about 6 here,” he said.

A total of 212 lawmakers found enough evidence to have Gutierrez tried for the following issues: low conviction rate and inaction on the NBN-ZTE scam, fertilizer fund scandal, "Euro generals" scandal, Mega-Pacific deal, and the Philip Pestaño case.

Tupas said he and the members of the Committee of 11 will have to drop plans of any vacation this Lenten break. He himself canceled his trip to the United States.

He said the members will have to meet over the session break to strengthen their case. “We will have to take advantage of the one and a half months to prepare for the trial,” he said.

Tupas, Tañada and Fariñas were elected on Tuesday evening to represent the prosecution team.

Tupas said they have already suggested the names of Representatives Reynaldo Umali, Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, Neri Colmenares and Kaka Bag-ao to join them. They have yet to decide on the other 4.