Philippines’ High Court denied with finality Ombudsman’s appeal vs impeachment
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez last Febuary 28 this year, which seeks to block the impeachment proceedings against her at the House of Representatives.
According to Supreme Court’s spokesperson Atty. Midas Marquez, seven out of fifteen magistrates voted to dismiss the appeal of Gutierrez to reverse the High Court’s ruling last February 15, 2011 that lifted the status quo ante order on the impeachment proceedings.
The latest ruling clears the way of any legal blunder for the impeachment proceedings. According to Marquez the decision comes clear with finality, “The House of Representatives can proceed to impeachment proceedings. Jurisprudence tells second MR (Motion for reconsideration) is a prohibited pleading.”
Voting to dismiss the motion were, Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Roberto Abad, Jose Mendoza, Eduardo Nachura at Martin Villarama Jr.
Voting in favor of Gutierrez were five magistrates topped by Chief Justice Renato Corona, including Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Lucas Bersamin, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Diosdado Peralta.
Associate Justices Mariano Del Castillo and Jose Perez voted with partiality to dismiss the motion, wherein by implication, they were seeking clarification on some points in this particular case in order to cast a full vote.
This repeats the voting pattern of 7-5-2-1 among the High Court’s magistrates last Feb. 15, 2011, with Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. inhibiting himself again due to an ethical issue since his son, Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is a member of the House Committee on Justice that tackles the impeachment complaints.
It has to be remembered that there were two impeachment complaints lodged against the Philippine Ombudsman last year. One was filed by then AKBAYAN Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and the other by the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN).
Topping on their perceived grounds of impeachment include the alleged inaction of the Ombudsman in some graft and corruption cases which many sectors believed allegedly involved the previous Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
These cases are the ‘NBN-ZTE scandal’, ‘fertilizer fund scam’ and the ‘euro generals scandal’, to name a few.
However, the Supreme Court last year, acting upon the Ombudsman’s petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued a status quo ante order putting a temporary halt on the impeachment proceedings. The Ombudsman in its petition for TRO cited the rules of impeachment in the Philippine Constitution, saying “accepting two complaints within the same year is prohibited”.
On February this year, the High Court’s majority ruled out the impeachment proceedings can push through given that the two impeachment complaints were consolidated and will be tackled in a single proceeding.
The High Court’s majority clarified that the rule against duplicity applies to the number of proceeding but not on the complaint.
Supreme Court Of The Phil