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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Who goes first?

The filing anew of an impeachment complaint last Monday, October 13, 2008 against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo didn't come as a surprise for me at all.

To me, this is the inevitable.

What I am particularly curious about is: will the Opposition find its way to beat coys or nuisances this time around.

In 2005 and 2006, a known Marcos Loyalist, Attorney Oliver Lozano, successively beat Ms Arroyo’s opponents to the draw by filing of impeachment cases against her ahead of any of the Oppositions who have prepared complaints against Arroyo.

The matter of who files first is deemed important because under House rules, lawmakers may entertain only one impeachment complaint against a president within a year.

However, as we all know, none of those impeachment cases filed by Lozano against Ms Arroyo prospered. Many believe that the move from Lozano actually were "brilliant moves" by the administration in order that a somehow weak complaint would be filed and not prosper. And indeed, the plan worked.

In 2007, a new name appeared in the picture. A certain Lawyer, Roel Pulido filed a rather weak-as-Lozano's complaint ahead of the Opposition again. The "sham complaint", opposition leader Roilo Golez said, was meant to frustrate an honest-to-goodness impeachment complaint. Again, as expected, this too, did not prosper.

This 2008, The complainants tried but failed to file the 97-page impeachment complaint late Saturday (October 11, 2008) at the House of Representatives because its secretary general, Marilyn Yap, who receives such complaints, had gone on a foreign trip.

On Monday, De Venecia and Suplico and their supporters arrived at 6:00 a.m. at the north gate of the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City and immediately signed on the log book to show proof that they were the first to make the filing.

The complainants and media personnel stayed at the guard post for several minutes before they were allowed to proceed to the south wing of the Batasang Pambansa building where the House secretary general holds office.

On Friday, Speaker Prospero Nograles hinted that the filing of the impeachment complaint could also be made through registered mail.

Inquirer.net writer Leila Salaverria accounts for this interesting race of "Who goes first" in the
filing of the 2008 Impeachment Case against GMA:

Waking up earlier than usual, a group led by businessman Jose “Joey” de Venecia III filed its impeachment case against Ms Arroyo at the Office of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives at 7:40 a.m.

Lozano wasn’t around yet.

But a copy of Lozano’s own complaint also landed at the House media office. It had a covering letter which bore the stamp of a Quezon City post office indicating the complaint was mailed to the chamber at 8:20 a.m.

A check at 2:30 p.m. Monday showed that the complaint mailed by Lozano and fellow lawyers Elly Pamatong and Evangeline Lozano had not reached the secretary general’s office.

Asked why he chose to mail the complaint instead of going to the House to file it himself—as what the De Venecia group did—Lozano told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone in Filipino: “I wanted to avoid heckling (kantyawan). I don’t want anything like that.”

The battle for "Who goes first" is now over. As lawyer Harry Roque, one of the complainants, implied, "“This impeachment complaint in the House is the real deal unlike the first three. House members have no choice but to accept it or reject it based on merits rather than technicalities as they did in the past years.”

The House secretary general has up to 10 session days to submit the impeachment complaint to Nograles who, in turn, has up to 10 session days to decide whether to forward the complaint to the House committee on justice.

The committee on justice has up to 60 session days to decide whether the complaint was sufficient in form and substance before it could pass it for plenary vote.

What will happen next, we don't know.

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