PALACE: HANDS OFF ON ERAP'S IMPEACH COMPLAINT

(MALAYA) - Bunye: House knows its business.

Malacaņang yesterday gave the assurance it would not meddle with the impeachment complaint filed by President Joseph Estrada against Chief Justice Hilario Davide and seven associate justices for their alleged participation in his ouster in 2001.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said President Arroyo does not believe in meddling with the affairs of other branches of government.

"She'd rather focus on itong mga proyekto niya, mas mahalagang proyekto dito ngayon sa Mindanao. She'd rather give that to the House of Representatives. Tutal naman ay may proseso ang House of Representatives niyan," he said in an interview with Radio Mindanao Network.

Named with Davide in the complaint filed June 2 were Associate Justices Artemio Panganiban, Josue Bellosillo, Reynato Puno, Jose Vitug, Leonardo Quisumbing, Antonio Carpio and Renato Corona.

The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) in the House has warned against sweeping the charges under the rug because of Speaker Jose de Venecia's seeming reluctance to endorse the complaint to the rules committee which, in turn, would refer it to the justice committee for hearing.

Rep. Gilbert Teodoro Jr. (Tarlac), head of the NPC bloc in the House, said the party would closely monitor how the chamber would act on the complaint filed by Estrada through his lawyer Rene Saguisag.

Estrada accused the justices of conspiring with other groups to pave the way for then Vice President Arroyo's assumption of the presidency.

The justice committee could start formal hearings on the complaint in early August or a week after Arroyo delivered her state-of-the-nation address to mark the opening of Congress.

Teodoro said the NPC bloc would block any move by the House leadership to trash the complaint without looking into the evidence.

Teodoro, a nephew of NPC head Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, has said they believed the complaint deserves a full trial.

"Huwag nating sabihin na walang basehan especially when the charges are being ventilated by (former Sen. Rene Saguisag) a Harvard graduate and a former senator of the Republic," he said.

The NPC, which has a working alliance with Lakas in the House, has 63 members.

Of the 62 members of the justice committee, 20 are NPC members, excluding Rep. Marcelino Libanan who as chairman is barred from voting.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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