Blog Lecture No. 36: Initiating an Impeachment Complaint

Let’s go to an interesting topic on initiating an impeachment complaint.

For a background, you can go to my previous blog-lecture on impeachment here.

What is the constitutional ban on multilple impeachment?

According to both Section 3(5) Article XI of the 1987 Constitution and Section 14, Rule V of the Rules of Impeachment of the 13th Congress, “No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”

Does this mean only one complaint can be filed against an impeachable officer can be filed?

Of course… not! The provisions I have quoted above refers to “proceedings” not complaints. There could be many complaints provided there is only one proceeding.

This rule exists to prevent a clever “Impeach Me” strategy that could be employed by an officer susceptible to impeachment.

So when is impeachment deemed initiated?

According to the Rules and Francisco vs. House of Representatives (G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003), impeachment is deemed initiated by filing of the complaint and subsequent referral of the same to the House Committe on Justice.

In the present impeachment, since the Speaker of the House referred multiple complaints to the Committee on Justice, all may be considered into one impeachment proceeding. Hence, the subsequent complaints cannot be striken off.

What then is the procedure in the Committee on Justice?

It is found in the Rules of Impeachment of the 13th Congress, downloadable here.

But briefly:

1. The Committee first furnishes a copy of the complaint(s) to the respondent (the person subject of the complaint).

2. Then it requires the respondent to answer within ten (10) days from such receipt. He/she cannot file a motion to dismiss.

3. Complainant(s) can then reply within three (3) days from receipt of the answer.

4. After this pleading stage, the Committee then decides whether the complaint(s) truly alleges impeachable offenses (sufficiency as to form). If does not, it shall forthwith dismiss the complaint outright but reports to the plenary (where it could still be overriden by 1/3 vote).

5. If there is sufficiency as to form, the conduct a hearing to determine if there is probable cause. The only deadline here is there must be a report within 60 session days from referral of the Speaker to the Committee.

6. A majority of committee members finding probable cause is enough to cause the referral to the plenary for impeachment (sufficiency as to substance). If this is the case, the Committee shall transmit the proposed resolution and the articles of impeachment (the impeachment charge sheet, so to speak) to the plenary.

7. A vote of at least 1/3 of the plenary is enough to refer the President for trial. Or an impeachment resolution of at least 1/3 of all House members is enough for such trial. The “creeping impeachment” where a 1/3 endorsement at any stage of the proceedings shall cause the automatic referral to a Senate trial, is still allowed.

What is the effect of an answer filed before?

See my previous post here.

What is the effect of the President’s motion to strike the other complaints?

Though named differently, it is, in effect, a motion to dismiss which is prohibited under the rules.

Now, for… breakfast.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Blog Lecture No. 36: Initiating an Impeachment Complaint

  1. Hi Atty. It’s quite a breather that you have explained to me the present confusion on whether or not a mere complaint can already be considered as one impeachment proceeding. I hope the House Committee on Justice would already know by now that it is not the number of complaints that should be counted but the number of impeachment proceedings in relation to the constitutional limitation on the number of impeachment proceedings that can be filed against an official in a given year.

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