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Impeach raps should proceed

AN OPPOSITION lawmaker said Tuesday the impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista complies with the House of Representatives’ impeachment rules and should proceed to the next step.

Deputy Minority Leader and Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque made the statement even as the House justice committee will today decide on the impeachment complaint filed by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio against Bautista for his alleged betrayal of public trust and violation of the Constitution over his ill-gotten wealth.  

Roque made his statement even as the camp of Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia Paz, raised concerns over the possibility that the complaint against him would be dismissed due to a “technicality.”

In a press conference at the House of Representatives Lorna Kapunan, the lawyer-adviser of Patricia Paz, said they hoped the House justice panel would still find probable cause to oust Bautista.

“We were very concerned this morning,” Kapunan told reporters in response to the pronouncement of Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the committee on justice, that the impeachment complaint against Bautista might be dismissed due to insufficiency in form.

“There was a statement relayed to us that the justice committee is inclined to view the impeachment complaint as dismissable,” Kapunan said. 

Roque said a potential defect noted by Umali in the complaint had been corrected with the filing by the Volunters Against Crime and Corruption of a substitute verification, a move allowed by the rules. 

He said VACC members Ferdinand Topacio and former Negros Rep. Jacinto Paras submitted on Sept. 13 a substitute verification of the complaint attesting that the allegations against Bautista were “true and correct of [their] own knowledge or based on authentic records.”

VACC lawyer Manuelito Luna attached the substitute verification in a Motion asking the committee on justice to admit it and substitute it for an earlier verification that they had submitted along with their impeachment complaint.

Umali earlier said the House committee on justice might dismiss the impeachment complaint filed against  Bautista for “insufficiency in form.”

The complainants had used an improper verification form that failed to state their common knowledge of the charges they alleged were based on authentic records.  

They said the form was intended to send  Articles of Impeachment to the Senate Impeachment Court through the support of one-third of the House members or at least 98 lawmakers, keeping in mind that the so-called “creeping” impeachment would still be the rule of the game.

Topics: Rep. Harry Roque , Andres Bautista , House of Representatives’ impeachment rules , Rep. Jacinto Paras , Ferdinand Topacio , Ill-gotten wealth
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