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Gutierrez v.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE (HRCJ) Petitioner invokes the Courts expanded certiorari jurisdiction, using the
G.R. No. 193459 : February 15, 2011 special civil actions of certiorari and prohibition as procedural vehicles.

FACTS: ISSUES:

Before the 15th Congress opened its first session, private respondents known Whether or not petition is premature and not yet ripe for adjudication.
as the Baraquel group filed an impeachment complaint against petitioner,
upon the endorsement of Party-List Representatives Arlene Bag-ao and Whether or not the simultaneous complaints violate the one-year bar rule.
Walden Bello.
HELD: The petition lacks mert. Petition is DISMISSED.
A day after the opening of the 15th Congress, the Secretary General of the
House of Representatives transmitted the impeachment complaint to House CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: Impeachment
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. who directed the Committee on Rules to
include it in the Order of Business. First issue:

Private respondents collectively known as the Reyes group filed another The unusual act of simultaneously referring to public respondent two
impeachment complaint against petitioner with a resolution of endorsement impeachment complaints presents a novel situation to invoke judicial power.
by Party-List Representatives Neri Javier Colmenares, et al. Petitioner cannot thus be considered to have acted prematurely when she
took the cue from the constitutional limitation that only one impeachment
The Secretary General transmitted the Reyes groups complaint to Speaker proceeding should be initiated against an impeachable officer within a period
Belmonte who also directed the Committee on Rules to include it in the Order of one year.
of Business.
Second issue:
After hearing, public respondent, by Resolution, found the two complaints,
which both allege culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public Article XI, Section 3, paragraph (5) of the Constitution reads: No
trust, sufficient in substance. impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more
than once within a period of one year. However, the term initiate means
Petitioner filed with this Court the present petition with application for to file the complaint and take initial action on it. The initiation starts with the
injunctive reliefs. The Court En Banc RESOLVED to direct the issuance of a filing of the complaint which must be accompanied with an action to set the
status quo ante order and to require respondents to comment on the petition complaint moving. It refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint
in 10 days. coupled with Congress taking initial action of said complaint. The initial
action taken by the House on the complaint is the referral of the complaint
Respondents raise the impropriety of the remedies of certiorari and to the Committee on Justice.
prohibition. They argue that public respondent was not exercising any
judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial function in taking cognizance of the two DOCTRINES:
impeachment complaints as it was exercising a political act that is
discretionary in nature, and that its function is inquisitorial that is akin to a Narration of facts
preliminary investigation.
Petitioner urged the Court to look into the narration of facts constituting the
offenses vis--vis her submissions disclaiming the allegations in the
complaints. The SC denied this as that would require the Court to make a one-year bar from the filing of the first impeachment complaint against her
determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense. Such a on July 22, 2010 or four days before the opening on July 26, 2010 of the 15th
determination is a purely political question, which the Constitution has left to Congress. She posited that within one year from July 22, 2010, no second
the sound discretion of the legislature. impeachment complaint may be accepted and referred to public respondent.
Contrary to petitioners claim, the SC found that the previous case of
Publication requirement Francisco v. House of Representatives was applicable to this case. There the
SC held that the term initiate means to file the complaint and take initial
Petitioner contended that she was deprived of due process since the action on it. It refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint coupled with
Impeachment Rules was published only on September 2, 2010 a day after Congress taking initial action of said complaint. The initial action taken by the
public respondent ruled on the sufficiency of form of the complaints. She House on the complaint is the referral of the complaint to the Committee on
likewise tacked her contention on Section 3(8), Article XI of the Constitution Justice. With a simultaneous referral of multiple complaints filed, more than
which directs that Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to one lighted matchstick light the candle at the same time. According to the SC,
effectively carry out the purpose of this section. While promulgation what is important is that there should only be one candle that is kindled in a
would seem synonymous to publication, there is a statutory difference in year, such that once the candle starts burning, subsequent matchsticks can
their usage. Promulgation must thus be used in the context in which it is no longer rekindle the candle.
generally understood, that is, to make known. What is generally spoken shall
be generally understood. Between the restricted sense and the general Sufficiency of form and substance
meaning of a word, the general must prevail unless it was clearly intended
that the restricted sense was to be used. Since the Constitutional Commission Petitioner claimed that Congress failed to ascertain the sufficiency of form
did not restrict promulgation to publication, the former should be and substance of the complaints on the basis of the standards set by the
understood to have been used in its general sense. It is within the discretion Constitution and its own Impeachment Rules. The SC found this claim to be
of Congress to determine on how to promulgate its Impeachment Rules, in untenable. The determination of sufficiency of form and substance of an
much the same way that the Judiciary is permitted to determine that to impeachment complaint is an exponent of the express constitutional grant of
promulgate a decision means to deliver the decision to the clerk of court for rule-making powers of the House of Representatives which committed such
filing and publication. It is not for the Supreme Court to tell a co-equal branch determinative function to public respondent. Contrary to petitioners
of government how to promulgate when the Constitution itself has not position that the Impeachment Rules do not provide for comprehensible
prescribed a specific method of promulgation. The SC observed that it is in no standards in determining the sufficiency of form and substance, the
position to dictate a mode of promulgation beyond the dictates of the Impeachment Rules are clear in echoing the constitutional requirements and
Constitution. Had the Constitution intended to have the Impeachment Rules providing that there must be a verified complaint or resolution, and that
published, it could have stated so as categorically as it did in the case of the the substance requirement is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the
rules of procedure in legislative inquiries. Even assuming that publication is offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee.
required, lack of it does not nullify the proceedings taken prior to the Notatu dignum is the fact that it is only in the Impeachment Rules where a
effectiveness of the Impeachment Rules, which faithfully comply with the determination of sufficiency of form and substance of an impeachment
relevant self-executing provisions of the Constitution. complaint is made necessary. This requirement is not explicitly found in the
organic law, as Section 3(2), Article XI of the Constitution basically merely
One-Year Bar Rule requires a hearing. Prudential considerations behooved the Supreme Court
to respect the compliance by the House of its duty to effectively carry out the
Article XI, Section 3, paragraph (5) of the Constitution reads: No constitutional purpose, absent any contravention of the minimum
impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more constitutional guidelines.
than once within a period of one year. Petitioner reckoned the start of the
In 2005, Merceditas Gutierrez was appointed by President Gloria
Judicial Review; expanded certiorari jurisdiction
Macapagal-Arroyo as ombudsman, succeeding outgoing Simeon
Respondents raised the impropriety of the remedies of certiorari and Marcelo who had resigned. After her appointment, several figures of the
prohibition. They argued that public respondent (the Congress) was not Arroyo administration were involved in political scandals such as the NBN-
exercising any judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial function in taking ZTE controversy, the Fertilizer Fund scam, the Euro Generals scandal,
cognizance of the two impeachment complaints as it was exercising a political
among others.
act that is discretionary in nature, and that its function is inquisitorial that is
akin to a preliminary investigation. The case of Francisco v. House of In 2009, a group of civil society personalities led by former Senate
Representatives characterizes the power of judicial review as a duty which,
President Jovito Salonga filed an impeachment case against Gutierrez on
as the expanded certiorari jurisdiction of the Supreme Court reflects, includes
the power to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of March 2. The complaint, referred to the Committee on Justice headed by
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any Arroyo's partymate at Lakas Kampi CMD Matias Defensor, Jr. of Quezon
branch or instrumentality of the Government. The SC found it well-within its City, cited these issues:
power to determine whether Congress committed a violation of the
Constitution or gravely abused its discretion in the exercise of its functions
Deliberate and inordinate action in the World Bank road project
and prerogatives that could translate as lack or excess of jurisdiction, which
would require corrective measures from the Court. worth US$33 million
Deliberately ignoring the Supreme Court's ruling dismissing the deal
Judicial Review; ripeness between Mega Pacific Corporation and then Commission on

An aspect of the case-or-controversy requirement is the requisite of Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos worth PHP1.3 billion
ripeness. The question of ripeness is especially relevant in light of the direct, Filing late and defective information that undermined the cases against
adverse effect on an individual by the challenged conduct. In the present former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez, who was charged with
petition, the SC found no doubt that questions on, inter alia, the validity of
extorting money from former Manila Rep. Mark Jimenez
the simultaneous referral of the two complaints and on the need to publish
as a mode of promulgating the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Gross inexcusable inaction on the cases filed by the Senate,
Proceedings of the House (Impeachment Rules) present constitutional former solicitor general Francisco Chavez and murdered
vagaries which call for immediate interpretation. The unusual act of journalist Marlene Garcia-Esperat on theFertilizer Fund scam worth
simultaneously referring to public respondent two impeachment complaints
PHP1 billion;
presents a novel situation to invoke judicial power. Petitioner was, therefore,
found not to have acted prematurely when she took the cue from the Failing to promptly resolve the Euro Generals scandal case despite
constitutional limitation that only one impeachment proceeding should be evidence and admission by the Philippine National Police comptroller,
initiated against an impeachable officer within a period of one year.
Director Eliseo de la Paz
DETAILED FACTS FROM WIKI: Committing grave abuse in dismissing and suspending local
government officials, specifically Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas,
2009 CASE Sr. and Bataan Governor Enrique Garcia.
On November 18, the House Committee on Justice dismissed the case; Legitimized the arrest of Hontiveros by the police at the height of
while deeming the complaint "sufficient in form," it was deemed as not the Hello Garci scandal
"sufficient in substance." The committee report stated that "The factual Failure to investigate Arroyo's PHP1 million dinner at New York's Le
allegations are, at best, a rehash of the allegations for the impeachable Cirque restaurant
offense of betrayal of public trust," and that the suspensions of Tupas and Failure to act on the Mega Pacific scandal, among others
Garcia were justifiable. The report was brought to the plenary on Refusal to grant ready access to public records such as the Statement
November 18. of Assets, Net Worth and Liabilities of former Pampanga Rep. Mikey
Arroyo.

2010 CASE

BAYAN complaint
In 2010, two impeachment cases were filed against Gutierrez, both by left-
leaning parties: first from Akbayan Citizens' Action Party and one from BAYAN filed their own case on early August 2010. Led by Renato Reyes,
the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN; New Patriotic Alliance). BAYAN cited these issues on their complaint:
These two complaints were referred to the Committee on Justice which is Failure to act on the Fertilizer Fund scam
now chaired by Iloilo's 5th districtrepresentative Niel Tupas, Jr. of
President Aquino's Liberal Party at August 22. Failure to act on the Euro Generals scandal
Failure to act on the Mega Pacific scandal
While Akbayan and BAYAN are both left-leaning parties, they are
ideological rivals.

Akbayan complaint

On July 2010, former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros-


Baraquel led the filing of an impeachment complaint against Gutierrez. The
complaint cited these issues:

Low conviction rate of the ombudsman


Failure to act promptly on the Philippine National Broadband Network
controversy
Incurred inexcusable delay in the investigation on the death of ensign
Philip Pestao