THE two impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez based on the same grounds might be consolidated into one, a lawmaker said Thursday.

“Considering that two complaints were referred to the committee at the same time, consolidation is possible,” said Representative Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Justice.

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Tupas sought the clarification of the time the complaints were referred. The impeachment cases were read and referred to the committee on August 10 at 4:47 p.m.

“The complaints were referred to the committee at the same time. When I asked in plenary what time exactly, I was informed same time, same minute," he added, explaining that there is no prohibition in the rules if consolidation is pursued.

The justice committee earlier opted to adopt the impeachment rules of the previous Congress.

Meanwhile, Representative Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna told Sun.Star that the complaint is stronger because the cases investigated by the Senate and mentioned by Sen. Santiago such as the euro generals and the fertilizer scam.

Former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros, together with Retired Brigadier General Danilo Lim and Evelyn and Felipe Pestaño -- parents of Phillip Andrew Pestano, a deceased Philippine Navy Ensign who allegedly had knowledge about the involvement of Navy officials in illegal activities -- filed the first impeachment raps against Gutierrez which was later on endorsed by Akbayan lawmakers.

Another impeachment case was lodged by progressive groups including Bayan and was endorsed by Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Walden Bello and Teddy Casino.

The decision to possibly combine the cases is different from what happened in 2005 wherein the justice committee then decided to take only the first impeachment complaint filed against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It was Marcos lawyer Oliver Lozano who filed the first complaint which was later on dismissed due to lack of merit.

Meanwhile, former President and current congresswoman Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (second district, Pampanga), who appointed Gutierrez to her position, will likely inhibit in the impeachment hearings, her spokesperson said.

"Hindi siya a-attend sa justice siguro, pwede mag inhibit siya kasi dapat pag-aralan para may credibility ang process," said Elena Bautista-Horn.(Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)