House freezes Castillo impeach, suspends session for second day | The Daily Tribune – Without Fear or Favor

House freezes Castillo impeach, suspends session for second day | The Daily Tribune – Without Fear or Favor.

By Charlie V. Manalo

02/01/2012

Allies of President Aquino have kept the impeachment case against Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo in suspended animation for the second day and are expected to place it in legislative limbo long enough to haul the hapless member of the Supreme Court (SC) to the impeachment court as one of the prosecution’s witnesses against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

For the second straight day, the House leadership has suspended its session in an attempt to delay the resolution of the impeachment case against Del Castillo.

The House first suspended its session Monday night, the day the 60 session days provided by law for the House to terminate the impeachment case against Del Castillo.

Del Castillo is being accused of plagiarism.

Senior Deputy Minority Leader Occidental Mindoro Rep. Ma. Amelita Villarosa was about to move for the adjournment of the session when Assistant Majority Leader Janet Garin banged the gavel declaring the suspension of the session.

Sources said the session was supposed to be adjourned Tuesday had the House committee on justice been able to conduct a hearing Monday night to complete its report recommending approval of the impeachment case against Del Castillo before the plenary. However, the same source said the panel failed to muster a quorum, thus the Monday night hearing was called off

With the session being suspended instead of being adjourned, administration lawmakers contend the 60 session day limit has not yet expired as a session, once suspended, however how long it takes, is counted only as one session day.

However, opposition lawmakers are accusing the House leadership of circumventing the interpretation of the law in just to keep del Castillo s impeachment case alive and use it to blackmail the SC Justice to testify against Corona who is being tried by the Senate impeachment court.

Zambales Representative Milagros Magsaysay said that the House leadership is keeping the impeachment case against del Castillo alive even though it has exceeded the 60-day limit for Congress to finalize the case as part of the prosecution strategy to summon del Castillo as one of 13 Justices it would summon to testify against Corona.

“It is unfair for the prosecution team led by justice committee chairman Niel Tupas to continue its threat of impeachment against Justice del Castillo who they plan to call on as a witness. It s like having a witness with a gun on his head. How can Justice del Castillo testify freely when he knows he can be impeached anytime by the President’s allies,” Magsaysay said in an interview.

Del Castillo is one of 13 justices the prosecution wanted to summoned as a witness for Article 4 which accused Corona of betraying the public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution with his “blatant disregard of the principle of separation of powers by issuing a ‘status quo ante order against the House of Representatives in the case concerning the impeachment of then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.”

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, for his part, said he would push for the termination of the impeachment proceedings against del Castillo claiming the 60-session day limit has already lapsed as early as December contrary to the claim of the House leadership that there was still five session days left.

Lagman said that the House leadership was stretching the 60-day limit by not recognizing the session days that were adjourned due to lack of quorum.

“I will contest that interpretation because we should count that as a session day because there was business transacted during these days and I have the journal to prove that,” said Lagman.

Minority Leader, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez claimed the House leadership was obviously keeping the del Castillo impeachment case in limbo by suspending the sessions early in the last few days due to the lack of quorum.

“We support Lagman’s view on this and we will contest the interpretation of the House leadership,” said Suarez.

Charlie V. Manalo

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