SC sets oral arguments on Ombudsman's impeach plea

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2010 04:23 PM | Updated as of Sep 22 2010 12:23 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will hear oral arguments on the petition of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to stop the impeachment proceedings against her at the House of Representatives.

Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the oral arguments have been set for September 30. He added that the magistrates would not want to prolong the disposition of the case as this might be construed as “interfering” already with the affairs of Congress.

He said the Court has directed  the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to submit its comment on Gutierrez's petition within a non-extendible period of 5 days.

The high court earlier stopped the House Committee on Justice, saying that the filing of 2 impeachment complaints filed over a 1-year period is barred by the Constitution.

The complaints, filed separately by former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros and members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other militant groups, accused the Ombudsman of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

Some lawmakers criticized the high court for stepping on the powers of a co-equal branch of government.

Some have even threatened that the committee will resume sessions on September 28, in view of a Constitutional provision commanding it to report an impeachment complaint within 60 days from referral.

The high court said however the decision is merely a temporary one. The oral arguments would be the right venue in threshing out issues.