'Indiscriminate filing' of impeach raps bad for PH, says JRI

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2017 12:23 AM

MANILA—A private sector group seeking judicial reforms believes “indiscriminate” filings of impeachment complaints against government officials divert their attention from performing public service.

Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI), a group of business organizations, judicial advocacy groups, and foreign chambers, said it is concerned with the increasing use “or threat” of impeachment proceedings in Congress against the highest ranking officials in the country. 

These include President Rodrigo Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista.

“JRI believes that the impeachment powers of Congress—as provided in our Constitution—must be exercised with great prudence, probity and transparency,” JRI said.

“Furthermore, indiscriminate or ill-considered filings of impeachment proceedings against government officials distract those accused from the performance of their duties as public servants, as well as our Congress from its priority legislative agenda,” it continued.

The group also warned against undermining the check and balance in the government, which may lower shareholders' confidence to invest in the country.

“Investors would risk capital only in countries where they have full confidence in the rule of law. Thus, any initiative which may be perceived as weakening the check and balance among the branches of government might shatter this confidence and negate our hard-won economic gains,” JRI said.

Sereno currently faces an impeachment complaint for failing to declare her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth truthfully, purchasing a P5.1 million car and other “extravagant” vehicles, and embellishing her personal data sheets among others.

Her camp has denied the charges, saying many allegations were unsupported by evidence. 

An impeachment complaint against Bautista was recently dismissed for being insufficient in form.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), which also filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno, is also eyeing filing an impeachment complaint against Morales for her alleged betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for "inordinately" delaying cases and selecting personalities to be prosecuted by her office.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier accused the Office of the Ombudsman of corruption and selective justice, citing the office's alleged bias for certain camps facing complaints at the agency. 

The Ombudsman has belied the accusation.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte for allegedly operating a death squad in Davao City, sanctioning killings in his war on drugs, keeping secret wealth and inefficiently handling the West Philippine Sea dispute with China.

The complaint was junked by the House of Representatives Justice Committee for lack of sufficiency in substance.

Meanwhile, no lawmaker has endorsed any of the two impeachment complaints filed against Robredo for allegedly violating the Constitution and betraying public trust by criticizing the administration's war on drugs in a video message to the United Nations.