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Alejano: House 'consistently inconsistent' in tackling impeachment cases

Rep. Gary Alejano gestures as he tries to defend the impeachment complaint he filed against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a Justice Committee hearing at the House of Representatives in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Monday, May 15, 2017. Philippine lawmakers have killed the impeachment complaint accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of crimes against humanity for the thousands of people who have died in his anti-drug crackdown. AP/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano on Wednesday blasted the "consistent inconsistencies" of the House of Representatives in dealing with impeachment cases after one of the lower house's panel deemed the complaint against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno sufficient in form and substance.

Alejano said that the way the House justice panel tackled the Sereno complaint and his impeachment case against President Rodrigo Duterte demonstrated the political leanings and biases of the members of the committee.

The hearing today of the justice committee showed double standards in tackling the Sereno and Duterte impeachment cases, according to Alejano, a member of the opposition bloc in the House which has consistently criticized Duterte's policies especially his brutal campaign to eradicate illegal drugs.

"We can see that the House is consistently inconsistent with regard to the rules on impeachment. The decision is not based on facts and merits of the impeachment complaint rather it is based on political leanings and biases of the members of the committee," Alejano said in a statement.

He said that decisions on impeachment clearly were dependent on the direction the majority in the House would like to take.

"Ika nga, ‘pag gusto may paraan, ‘pag ayaw maraming dahilan," he said.

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READ: Impeachment against Sereno raises political questions

On Wednesday, the justice committee voted 30-4 to declare that the impeachment complaint filed by Larry Gadon, a lawyer who unsuccessfully ran as a senator under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as sufficient in form and substance.

Reps. Edcel Lagman, Arlene Bag-ao, Tom Villarin and Carlos Zarate voted against the tabled motion.

Rep. Reynaldo Umali and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said that the Gadon complaint was backed by authentic documents such as certified true copies from the Supreme Court and Sereno's statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Villarin countered, "This impeachment complaint should be supported by evidence and not bare allegations of a news report."

Alejano cited several instances in which there was inconsistency in the panel's application of impeachment rules.

First, the complainant was allowed to make a "lengthy opening statement" while he was not allowed to even speak during the proceedings, Alejano said.

He also noted that Gadon was simply asked to swear on the truthfulness of the verification while he was bombarded with questions even without being given the chance to explain.

He also hit the committee for allowing the lawyer to cite newspaper clippings while this was cited as "hearsays" during his hearing.

"Further, the Justice Committee Chair Umali and Majority Leader Farinas argued that even if he has no personal knowledge, his complaint was based from authenticated documents," Alejano said.

"However, the authenticated documents were dated August 15, 2017, way beyond the August 2, 2017 filing of Atty. Gadon’s impeachment complaint. Clearly he has neither personal knowledge nor authenticated documents to base his impeachment complaint on."

The contents of his complaint were immediately questioned at the first stage while the committee deferred the discussion of the substance of the Gadon case until the hearing proper.

"The determination of sufficiency in substance of Atty. Gadon’s impeachment complaint was limited on recital of facts, as stated in the rules. In my case, the committee went beyond recital of facts as basis for determining if the impeachment complaint is sufficient in substance," the minority congressman said.

In dismissing the first impeachment charge against Duterte in May, the justice committee then grilled Alejano on the content of his case and rejected his explanation that although he had no personal knowledge as a witness he had personal knowledge as a complainant based on official records, affidavits and the president's public pronouncements.

The justice committee will submit a resolution within 60 days. After this, it will be calendared for consideration by the House within 10 days.

A vote of at least one-thirds of all House members is needed to transmit the complaint to the Senate for a full trial.

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