By Raynan F. Javil

Impeachment complaint against Duterte junked

Posted on May 16, 2017

THE HOUSE committee on justice has junked the impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary C. Alejano against President Rodrigo R. Duterte after the panel voted it to be insufficient in substance.

The House committee on justice, chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali, deliberated yesterday the impeachment complaint of Mr. Alejano, a mutineer in the Magdalo group of then Navy officer Antonio F. Trillanes IV during the Arroyo administration.

Although the committee had deemed the complaint to be sufficient in form, 42 panel members in a vote ruled that it was “insufficient in substance,” noting further that the allegations in the complaint were based on “hearsay” and the documents unauthenticated.

Mr. Alejano’s complaint centered on Mr. Duterte’s presumed liability in the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) following his war on drugs, a campaign dating back to Mr. Duterte’s mayoralty in Davao City. Mr. Alejano later filed a supplemental affidavit regarding another matter, what he said was Mr. Duterte’s “defeatist stance” on the country’s maritime issues with China.

At Monday’s hearing, Mr. Alejano was grilled by Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas on the extent of Mr. Alejano’s “personal knowledge” regarding EJKs under the present drug war and during Mr. Duterte’s long-time mayoralty.

Mr. Alejano’s verification in his complaint states that: “I/We hereby confirm and affirm that the material allegations made therein are true and correct of my/our own personal knowledge and as culled from authentic records.”

Before answering Mr. Fariñas’ questions, Mr. Alejano tried to secure an approval from Mr. Umali to deliver his opening remarks first, but he was thumbed down repeatedly and directed to answer the questions.

Mr. Alejano admitted he had no personal knowledge of the EKJs but maintained that his complaint was “culled” from authentic records and even official remarks by the President, according to transcripts issued by the Palace.

Mr. Alejano said he had “personal knowledge based on the testimonies and affidavits of witnesses.” In response, Mr. Fariñas said: “You took it upon yourself to state under oath that you have personal knowledge on this, but now you’re saying hindi pala (otherwise).”

Mr. Fariñas added the allegations on Mr. Alejano’s complaint were mere “hearsay” and thus inadmissible in court.

“Clearly, it’s not in his personal knowledge. That is the defect here....You are introducing statements under oath, these are not your own. Lalabas hearsay po ito,” Mr. Fariñas said, adding: “The material allegations, (if they’re just) hearsay,... sasayangin mo lang ang panahon namin dito (you’re wasting our time here).”

Mr. Fariñas warned Mr. Alejano he could face an ethics complaint or perjury case. “You are producing statements under oath which are not your own, that is not allowed,” he said. “You are now coming to us and in fact I am warning you, you may be subjected to [an] ethics case here.”

The Justice committee suspended its deliberation and thereafter held an executive session. Mr. Fariñas later manifested that “out of liberty,” the committee declared the complaint sufficient in form “despite its defect” in the verification.

He added that “this will be the last time that the committee entertains any complaint where the affiant or complainant violates paragraph 3 of the verification.”

“Any complainant who should come before Congress, must really stand to his oath that all the material allegations of the complaint are true and correct based on his personal knowledge and/or culled from authentic records,” Mr. Fariñas said.

Interviewed by reporters after the hearing, Mr. Umali said the complaint was “deficient” in verification, which was why the committee members voted to junk it.

“In the verification, he took [an] oath that he [had] personal [knowledge] and based on authentic documents. But if you look at the allegations, he has no personal knowledge. If you look at all of the documents appended thereto, those are not authentic,” Mr. Umali said.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella said the complaint was “from rehashed, trumped (-) up charges aimed at undermining the duly constituted government.”

“The President respects a co-equal branch of government and does not interfere in the political exercise. Neither is he beholden to any group and he remains focused on governance,” said Mr. Abella.

“The Chief Executive is currently in China to bring more foreign investments in his effort to bring comfortable lives to all Filipinos. The improvement of the welfare of the Filipino people is the paramount consideration,” he added.