MANILA — The House committee on Justice on Tuesday saw the three impeachment complaints filed against President Benigno Aquino III sufficient in form.
This after members of the committee chaired by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas agreed to vote separately on the complaints’ form and substance.
The first impeachment complaint filed by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan [Bayan] and endorsed by four solons, Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna; Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis, and Luz Ilagan of Gabriela, all of Makabayan bloc was filed on July 21 with 28 other individuals. They voted 53 in favor, with one against and one abstention.
The first impeachment complaint cites President Aquino for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for authorizing the discredited Disbursement Acceleration Program [DAP].
The second complaint was filed by youth groups led by the Kabataan party-list and was subsequently endorsed by Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon on July 22 who accuses the chief executive of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption over the DAP. The committee voted 42 in favor, two against and four voted for abstention.
The third complaint which accuses President Aquino of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for agreeing to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement [EDCA] with the United States, and was filed on July 24. It was endorsed by Representatives Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela. No members objected as they unanimously voted sufficient in form.
Tupas told reporters after the hearing that the real battleground is determining if The complaints are sufficient in substance when the committee meets again on Tuesday next week.
“The most crucial is the substance because once the complaints pass the substance, you will order the respondent to answer and you will open the respondent to all sorts of questions,” Tupas explained.
When asked if there is an instance that the Justice committee turns down sufficiency in form, Tupas replied, “none that I remember.”
Allies of President Aquino in the House of Representatives had already predicted that the impeachment cases would lead nowhere at the end of the day because this is a political exercise which means it is a numbers game.
Based on the impeachment rules, “the requirement of substance is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee.”
The committee is mandated to submit a report telling stakeholders that they had dismissed the complaint if the committee finds that the complaint is not sufficient in substance. However, if they found the complaint sufficient in form and substance, they will furnish the respondents copy of the resolution and allow them to answer the complaint within 10 days from receipt of the notice.
The committee will determine whether the complaint alleges sufficient grounds for impeachment after receipt of the documents from the complainants and respondents. If it does not exist, the committee will dismiss the complaint. If sufficient grounds exist, the committee will conduct hearings, which will be open to the public to determine if probable cause exists on the basis of evidence submitted to it.
If probable cause exists, the panel will submit a resolution to plenary. A vote of at least one-third of the 290-member House is needed for the approval of the resolution setting in motion the Articles of Impeachment.