Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Minutes of the Justice Committee Hearing on GMA Impeachment

10:00 am House Committee on Justice begins hearing of impeachment complaints against Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 31 committee members are present.

Rep. Casiño says Rep. Villarosa should be disqualified in the committee hearings as she admitted on record that she distributed bribe money. Committee chair Defensor replies inhibition is voluntary. Rep. Villarosa admits to distributing the money to only 2 representatives – Abante and Dumpit.

Rep. Golez raises a point of order, hearings are too rigorous. He questions why the committee seems to be rushing the proceedings. He wants the justice committee to have a “more reasonable calendar.” Rep. Defensor defends the 4-day marathon.

Rep. Guingona wants to have his resolution to endorse the impeachment complaint be recognized.

Rep. Defensor’s opening statement says the House of Representatives is on trial. Proceedings have to proceed swiftly and should not be motivated by person and political ambitions.

Rep. Mariano of Anakpawis wants to have on record all parties to the complaints.

Rep. Puentevella says the complaints are so voluminous. Which one should be deliberated upon? “Every year this is an annual fiesta…’Wag na tayong mag-utuan ditto.”

Rep. Jala: The complaint is a “mere scrap of paper.” It is insufficient in form and should be dismissed. He says it should not be considered since it violates the rule that there can only be one impeachment complaint filed against an official in a year.

Rep. N. Gonzales says “We are not aware of the Quezon complaint.” The Committee on Rules does not have the authority to add another complaint to the order of business.

Rep. Defensor implies complaints not submitted to the Justice committee should be dismissed.

Rep. Lagman intervenes, the one year ban rule has already expired. It need not be mentioned in the De Venecia complaint since it was submitted on Oct. 13. The one year ban expired on October 11. On this ground, the complaint is sufficient in form.

Rep. Golez: “We are so repressed in the minority. This is what you call the essence of democracy?”

Rep. Domogan insists that only the De Venecia complaint should be considered by the committee, whether it is sufficient in form.
11.30 Recess. Lunch break.

Rep. Liza Maza clarifies whether the Sotto complaint should be excluded. Minority clarifies that the Quezon intervention was referred by the Secretary General to the Justice Committee.

Rep. Puentevella mocks House minority.

Rep. Antonino-Custodio calls on Rep. Defensor that the Justice Committee already received the intervention. She wants to the committee to consider the intervention and how it should be treated. Should it be accepted as an amendment or supplementary to the De Venecia complaint?

Rep. Defensor is non-committal. He says the committee will consider the Quezon complaint a separate one, violating the one year ban rule.

Rep. Antonino-Custodio calls on Rep. Defensor not to unilaterally make this decision. The matter should be decided upon by the whole body.

Rep. Casiño says he has no copy of the intervention and so he cannot decide on the matter. He calls for the resumption of the hearing tomorrow.

Rep. Antonino-Custodio expressed concern that should the intervention be considered a supplement to the De Venecia complaint, then it will also be dismissed without the committee’s deliberation.

Rep. Golez calls on Defensor’s opening speech, seemingly “in favor of dismissal.”

Rep. Zialcita asks, “How many interventions should we entertain?”

Rep. Puentevella says the minority should get its act together and consolidate only one impeachment complaint.

Rep. Antonino-Custodio says the minority needs time to present the complaint(s) properly.

The majority proposes having only 5 representatives from either group present their sides. Minority representatives all express dissent against limiting only 5 representatives from either side present their case. All minority representatives should be able to speak.

12:15. Hearing adjourned and to be resumed tomorrow.

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

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