Press Release
May 16, 2017


The day we merely pay lip service to the checks and balance in our political system, instead of living up to the spirit of this republican principle, is the day we lose our democracy.

It is yet another sad day for our country and our democracy when the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives railroaded the consideration of the impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo R. Duterte, by hastily dismissing it on the fictitious ground that its proponent, MAGDALO Representative Gary C. Alejano, who was not even afforded the opportunity to present his witnesses and evidence, lacked personal knowledge of the facts constituting the complaint.

The initiation of an impeachment complaint against the President is governed by Article 11, Section 3(2) of the 1987 Constitution. Nowhere, but nowhere, in this constitutional provision or the Rules of the House of Representatives is it required that the Member of Congress who files the impeachment complaint must have personal knowledge of the articles of impeachment. Had it been otherwise, past impeachment complaints, such as those against then President Joseph Estrada and former Chief Justice Renato Corona, would have likewise failed because no member of the House who ever filed or endorsed an impeachment complaint had any personal knowledge of the grounds constituting the complaints against the concerned impeachable officials.

Most importantly, to impose such a requirement is to transform this critical and constitutional process of exacting the accountability of the highest official in the land into an exercise, not just in futility, but in mere window dressing: there to perform no other function than to fool the Filipino people, and to make a lie out of the principle that "Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them."

And yet - in another display of disregard for the rule of law and mindless kowtowing to Malacañang - members of a co-equal branch of government, in this case the members of the House Justice Committee led by the House Majority Floor Leader, required that Cong. Alejano only present matters on which he has personal knowledge, even when no law or rules require the same. What is required at this stage is merely a determination that the complaint is sufficient in form and in substance.

Rule 3, Section 4, of the Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Proceedings in the House of Representatives provides that "[t]he requirement of substance is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee." A cursory review of the impeachment complaint would show that Cong. Alejano properly complied with this requirement in the House Rules. At this stage, the members of the committee should not yet determine the weight and sufficiency of evidence.

What is clear to us now is that the President's allies in the House of Representatives are willing to ignore the rule of law, the bounds of fair play, and any semblance of professional decency in order to protect, however irrationally, their principal. The dismissal of the impeachment complaint by the Committee on Justice in the House of Representatives is a testament to the failure of the House to perform its duty to keep the executive powers in check, when congressmen prevented a legitimate effort to hold the President accountable for his actions.

Cong. Alejano's complaint is based on sound evidence and he should be given the opportunity to present his case. In line with his military career characterized by honor, integrity, bravery, and heroism, he should also be commended for his courage to stand up to the President despite the odds and overwhelming pressure. At a time of looming tyranny, we need more statesmen like him who are not afraid to fight for what is right no matter how unpopular it may be.

I pray, for the sake of our country, that the plenary will overturn the Committee's dismissal of the complaint.

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