BUMPY START. Several leaders of the House of Representatives on Monday assailed the impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte, which they said was based on "hearsay evidence."
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas argued that Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano lacked "personal knowledge" of the allegations he made against Duterte, including the President's supposed ties to a death squad, alleged endorsement of drug-related killings, hidden wealth and disadvantageous foreign policy.
Fariñas noted that Alejano based his allegations on media reports, the Senate testimony of self-confessed hitmen, unauthenticated bank documents and the affidavit of Senator Antonio Trillanes.
Alejano is an ally of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of Duterte's most vocal critics in the Senate. The two were accused of leading several attempts to oust former president Gloria Arroyo when they were still with the military.
The complaint also includes questions by the Commission on Audit over the hiring of 11,000 "ghost" employees in Davao City.
"Iyung narinig mo o nabasa mo sa diyaryo o naikuwento sa iyo -- that is hearsay evidence and that will not stand trial," Fariñas said.
"If you have a complaint against an impeachable officer and your information [is] not of your own personal knowledge, let that person be the complainant and then you will endorse."
Alejano himself admitted that his complaint was mainly based on "open sources," but insisted that these could not be deemed hearsay because he personally reviewed that information.
"I affirm the contents of the verification -- that I have personal knowledge based on facts culled from authentic records," he said.
Deputy House Speaker Fredenil Castro, however, moved for the dismissal of the complaint, saying that no complainant should use "falsities and hearsay evidence" in trying to oust public officials.
Among those who echoed Castro's stand were Congressmen Harry Roque, Salvador Leachon and Rodante Marcoleta.
House justice panel chairman Reynaldo Umali then suspended the proceedings so his committee can hold an executive session.