House starts hearing on Duterte impeach raps


Posted at May 15 2017 10:12 AM | Updated as of May 15 2017 02:41 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte waits for the Southeast Asian leaders to arrive during the opening ceremony of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila, April 29, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA - The House committee on justice began reviewing on Monday the first impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte.

The panel will determine whether or not the complaint filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano is sufficient in form and substance, said chairperson Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.

Umali added Alejano will be given a chance to support his position that Duterte should be removed from office over his alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad, his brutal war on drugs, his purported unexplained wealth, and policy on handling the West Philippine Sea dispute with China.

"Si Cong. Gary Alejano, maging ang ating mga kasamahan sa Kongreso na siguro, for the first time, will witness and take part in an impeachment proceeding -- bibigyan natin ng pagkakataon na ilahad ang kanilang saloobin," Umali said in a phone interview with radio DZMM before the 9:30 a.m. hearing.

(Cong. Gary Alejano and congressmen who will witness and take part in an impeachment proceeding for the first time will be given a chance to air their sentiments.)

A majority of justice panel members need to deem that there is probable cause in the impeachment raps. Otherwise, the complaint will be junked.

If the committee finds the complaint sufficient in form and substance, it will be brought before the plenary, where it would need the votes at least a third of the House or 98 lawmakers so it could be forwarded to the Senate for a full blown impeachment trial.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said the ouster bid will not prosper in a Congress dominated by Duterte's allies.

Malacañang meanwhile has dismissed the complaint as part of a destabilization plot against the government.