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Lawyer threatens to sue senators for abandoning Gutierrez's impeachment trial

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Lawyer Alan Paguia is considering to file charges against members of the Senate for allegedly neglecting their constitutional duty to conduct the impeachment trial of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

"They have an impeachment complaint and should have undertaken proceedings on the matter but didn't," he said on the side of Saturday Forum @ Annabel's in Quezon City.

He said the senators were duty-bound to hear testimonies of witnesses concerned and to rule on the complaint.

Without such ruling, he said, it was unclear where things stand so people must question the matter in court.

In March 2011, the House impeached Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust and transmitted to the Senate that month the corresponding Articles of Impeachment against her.

Article XI Section 3(6) provides that "the Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment."

Gutierrez resigned in April 2011, however.

Malacanang accepted her resignation and the senators merely let things be instead of carrying on with the impeachment trial, Paguia said.

"That's wrong," he said.

Paguia clarified Gutierrez's resignation has no effect on her impeachment trial since that was an illegal move.

Up to the time of her resignation, Gutierrez claimed to be the Ombudsman so, he said, she can not relinquish her post.

"What she did was an illegal resignation," he said, citing as basis for this opinion Section 12 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

He said Gutierrez's action contradicted such law so no actual resignation occurred.

"That's resignation in word only and not in law," he said.

Earlier, Paguia and former Misamis Oriental province governor Homobono Adaza jointly filed before the Supreme Court (SC) a petition for 'certiorari' and prohibition on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Adaza said the SC was constitutionally duty-bound to rule on such petition even if the Senate impeachment court already convened this week to hear the articles of impeachment against the Chief Justice.

By Catherine J. Teves




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