Belmonte speaks….finally

IT’S been almost three months since he has assumed the highest post at the House of Representatives but Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has chosen to go under the radar.

Unlike his predecessors who were very visible and are always ready to offer their thoughts on varied issues of national significance, Speaker Belmonte appears to content himself on letting his fellow lawmakers stand up and make their voices heard on various issues and controversies.

It maybe deliberate on his part, because Belmonte apparently knew that as the leader of the House of Representatives, his stand or opinion on a particular issue will automatically be interpreted as the stand of Congress.

Not even the brewing controversy between the Church and the Aquino government on reproductive health bill which is currently pending in the House has made him speak or offer his thoughts on the raging issue.

Therefore, when he speaks and make known his stand, everybody should better listen because it means that he meant what he was saying.

Such was the case when he asked the Supreme Court (SC) to lift its status quo ante order and to respect the “exclusive power” of the House of Representatives in initiating the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

In taking the cudgels for the House, Belmonte filed his Motion for Leave to Intervene and Comment in Intervention Ex Abundanti Cautela.

He argued that the status quo ante order issued by the high tribunal “emasculates the power of the House of Representatives to exact any form of accountability” from the Ombudsman, and endows Gutierrez with “the status of an untouchable.”

His motion stemmed from an earlier petition filed by Gutierrez before the SC which sought to stop the impeachment proceedings against her.

It can be recalled that both the Akbayan and Bayan Muna party-lists filed separate impeachment complaints against Gutierrez that were referred to the House committee on justice simultaneously.

In their complaints, the party-lists accused Gutierrez of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for allegedly sitting on controversial cases involving former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Gutierrez argued that the justice committee against violated the constitutional provision barring the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same official more than once within a period of one year when it accepted the twin complaints.

In his motion, Belmonte clarified that he is not conceding the constitutional status of the House of Representatives as a co-equal,” and that his intervention should not be interpreted as his “endorsement of the merits of any of the existing charges” against Gutierrez.

What he wanted is for Gutierrez to follow the rules and file her answer to the charges against her at the Committee on Justice instead of petitioning the SC.

Given the fact that Belmonte seldom stands up and speaks even on sensitive issues , I believe that the SC should better weigh carefully the arguments that he raised in his motion.

After all, Belmonte has already spoken and that finally made him the Speaker of the House literally. Bobby Ricohermoso

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