MANILA (Mabuhay) – Any plan to impeach Vice President Jejomar Binay has little chance of succeeding even if the House of Representatives is packed with administration allies, the chairman of the House Committee on Justice said on Tuesday.
Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said there’s only a slim probability that Binay will be impeached with only 10 months left before the May 2016 national elections.
“While we cannot prevent anyone from filing an impeachment complaint, as chair of the justice committee and an experienced member of the house in impeachment, I don’t see an impeachment complaint [against Binay] succeeding,” Tupas told reporters.
“It’s very very remote because we’re only a few months away from elections and I think the mood is not really to impeach but let the cases proceed against the Vice President,” he said.
Tupas, a Liberal party stalwart, headed the prosecution team during the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012. He was already the committee chair when the three impeachment complaints filed against President Benigno Aquino III were junked last year for lack of substance.
Binay’s political party, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), earlier claimed that the complaint affidavit prepared by the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office in relation to the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building II indicated that the Vice President was being investigated “for purposes of determining sufficiency of evidence that would warrant filing of impeachment.”
However, administration allies, including House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., have said the ruling party doesn’t have plans to impeach Binay.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said Binay’s camp’s fear of an impeachment was “unfounded” since the LP isn’t keen on filing a complaint against him.
“After all, the elections are just around the corner,” Evardone said in a text message.
While administration allies aren’t keen on impeaching Binay, Tupas said cases can still be filed against the Vice President since unlike Aquino, he isn’t immune from suit.
“Immunity from suit only applies to the head of state. That’s an established principle. The Vice President is impeachable, but you can file cases against him,” he said.
The Ombudsman is currently investigating Binay over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Science High School building and the Makati City Hall Building II.
The Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, which also investigated the allegations of corruption against Binay, has recommended that plunder charges be filed against him in connection with the supposedly overpriced construction of the Makati parking building. (MNS)