Defensor: SC won’t meddle in impeachment

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE chairman of the House committee on justice yesterday expressed belief that the Supreme Court (SC) will unlikely intervene in their 42-8 junking of the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

During the weekly Usaping Balita Media Forum at Serye Restaurant in Quezon City Memorial Circle, Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor, chair of the committee, stressed that Congress has the sole authority to hear impeachment complaints.

“The Congress of the Philippines has the exclusive and original jurisdiction to try impeachment complaint. The decision of the House is not subject to appeal. It stands no chance, out of respect for the body, it’s an issue that Congress has the right to decide,” Defensor told the forum citing his personal belief as a lawyer and veteran lawmaker.

“If they are going to appeal on question of law, siguro mai-enrich ang jurisprudence. ..appeal is an extraordinary act,” he added.

Defensor was reacting to the statement of Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros that pro-impeachment lawmakers are now mulling to bring the issue before the SC for the committee’s alleged grave abuse of discretion.

However, Defensor said he is leaving it all to the wisdom of SC, adding he is ready to defend the decision junking the impeachment complaint due to insufficiency in substance.

“Kapag SC ang nagsalita, ’di natin p’wedeng sabihing mali. I don’t want to pre-empt them. If they bring the matter to the SC…. (I am) ready to argue my case,” Defensor said.

In a related development, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., impeachment endorser, said he is now looking at SC where “independent minds” live in contesting the dismissal of the impeachment complaint.

“At least in the Supreme Court we know we have at least a 50% chance, samantalang walang chance sa committee on justice or plenary sa House of Representatives,” said De Venecia in a radio interview.

Responding to De Venecia, Defensor said lawmakers will sustain the committee decision during plenary voting next week not because of numbers but of strong arguments presented by the anti-impeachment lawmakers.

“Hindi sila makakakuha ng 80 (votes to reverse the committee ruling) not just because of numbers, but we believe because we put up a very strong argument,” said Defensor. “At most, I don’t want to predict, marami na ‘yung 25 to 30, kailangan nila actually is 80 votes.”