House finally acts on impeachment case vs Leonen with referral to justice panel

Published May 18, 2021, 6:48 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives on Monday, May 18 finally referred to the Committee on Justice the impeachment complaint filed early December, 2020 against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said that by referring the complaint to the justice panel, the Lower House, thus, fulfilled its “constitutional duty”.

“We believe that the Chairman and Members of the House of Committee on Justice will act judiciously on the impeachment complaint based on constitutional grounds and in accordance with established rules and practices,” he said.

Filed December 7, 2020 by journalist Edwin Cordevilla, the impeachment case was endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Barba. The complainant called for the removal of Leonen as SC member for allegedly sitting on numerous cases assigned him.

Cordevilla said the magistrate was also slow in resolving election protests filed before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) that he heads.

Specifically cited is the quo warranto petition filed by former Rep. Eugene De Vera against incumbent Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo. A few months after filing the case in 2019, De Vera called on the HRET to resolve the issue, pointing out that it merely sought an interpretation of the Philippine Competitions Commission which bars Quimbo from running for any elective position, having served the PCC as a commissioner a few months before filing her certificate of candidacy in 2018.

Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin who used to head the Lower House contingent to the HRET downplayed the impeachment complaint as a non-priority under the current House leadership.

However, Romualdez noted that during the Committee on Rules meeting that deliberated the impeachment complaint, the panel “overwhelmingly adopted” a motion to refer the complaint to the Committee on Justice chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso. Iloilo City Rep. Julienne “Jam” Baronda initiated the motion.

“The ball is now in the hands of the House Committee on Justice, ably chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso III who had served as Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA),” said Romualdez.

Cordevilla, secretary general of Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, is being represented by lawyer Larry Gadon who had previously aired serious concern over the failure of the House leadership to refer the complaint for committee action.

It took Romualdez a single regular session day to be able to put the complaint into motion when it was referred Tuesday.

.”The Constitution and the House Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings are clear on the timetable for acting on such complaint.The Committee on Justice, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within 60 session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution,” said Romualdez.