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House panel trashes VACC, VPCI impeachment rap vs. CJ Sereno

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday dismissed the impeachment complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI) against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

This was after only five members of the House Justice Committee voted for the motion of Iloilo Representative Arthur Defensor to determine sufficiency in form for the complaint and 23 members voted against the motion.

During the committee hearing, Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas pointed out that the VACC and VPCI used the wrong format for the verification page for their complaint.

The complainants apparently followed a format for the verification page used for filing by one-third members of the House, and not one for filing by private complainants.

Sixteen congressmen endorsed the complaint of the VACC and the VPCI.

"If it's one-third of the members, you can use that page for verification, but not for complainants. This rule only applies when the complainants are one-third of the members, because it is impossible for one-third of the members to have personal knowledge of the case," Farinas explained.

ABS party-list Representative Eugene De Vera reminded individuals who will file impeachment complaints in the future to strictly follow the rules.

"It is already a notice for everyone, when you file a complaint, see to it that you comply [with the rules]," he said.

VACC founding chairman and complainant Dante Jimenez, however, is hoping that the House justice committee would still give them a chance to correct the verification page.

"Aminin natin, first time namin mag-file ng complaint versus the Chief Justice. But we will coordinate with the Committee on Justice how we will rectify this," he told reporters in an ambush interview.

"May tsansa pa ba? Kung wala na, wala na tayong magagawa. This is democracy," he added.

Jimenez also said the House panel should still consider finding sufficiency in substance for their complaint.

"Hindi pa tapos ang laban siguro. We will still have the opportunity to rectify. But we are happy because the Committee on Justice is doing their work," he said.

Meanwhile, the panel found lawyer  Lorenzo "Larry" Gadon's impeachment complaint against Sereno sufficient in form and substance

Thirty members of the justice committee voted for the motion of COOP-NATCO party-list Representative Anthony Bravo to determine the sufficiency in form of Gadon's complaint and Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque's motion to determine its sufficiency in substance.

Only four members of the panel — Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, Quezon City Representative Kit Belmonte, Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao and Siquijor Representative Ramon Rocamora — voted against the motions.

In his complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of committing acts which serve as ground for her impeachment, such as culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.

Twenty-five congressmen endorsed his complaint.

In opposing Bravo's motion, Zarate argued that Gadon only attached newspaper clippings to support his allegations against the Chief Justice, which does not show his personal knowledge in his complaint.

Other opposing voices also cited "hearsay evidence" found in Gadon's complaint, and that the allegation on culpably violating the Constitution does refer to the cited constitutional provision. —LBG/KG, GMA News

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