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Senators reject call to stop 'quo warranto' vs Sereno.

By Hannah L. Torregoza and Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola

A number of senators rejected the call for the Senate to adopt a resolution asking the Supreme Court (SC) to suspend the quo warranto proceedings against embattled Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Senate President Aqulino Pimentel III was cold to an appeal for the Upper Chamber to prevent the quo warranto proceedings, describing as "presumptuous" the action asked of the Senate by the group Coalition for Justice (CFJ).

The CFJ is a network of various groups that are against the quo warranto petition filed before the SC in a bid to unseat Sereno.

Pimentel said: "(The) House has not yet impeached anybody. Wouldn't that be too presumptuous on the part of the Senate for us to say that we want to proceed with a (theoretical) impeachment trial?"

"They want us to do something (A) because of another thing (B). But we cannot insist on B because the condition precedent for B has not happened," he said in a text message when asked to clarify whether or not the Senate would not meddle with the quo warranto petition as the CFJ had asked.

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said he would not support a resolution ordering the High Court to do as such because it is inappropriate for a co-equal branch of government to dictate on the other.

"It's not about having the majority or minority to decide on this, it's about separation of powers. The bottom line is, we have no right to tell the SC what they can and cannot do," Lacson said.

The call was made by the CFJ by sending or personally handing letters to the senators last Wednesday.

Senators Francis Escudero and Vicente Sotto III have also turned down the appeal, citing the "separation of powers" under the Constitution.

"So what so-called 'right' will the Senate, as an Institution, be asserting and fighting for? Our putative right to try a non-existent impeachment case?" Escudero pointed out.

Escudero said that if indeed the group claims that the Chief Justice's rights to due process are being violated, the proper forum to raise the issue would be at the SC.

But in her solidarity message for the CFJ, Senator Leila de Lima underscored the Senate's sole prerogative as an independent branch of government to hear and decide on impeachment trial.

"Together, we should speak out and stand up for the Constitution and the system of checks and balances in government. Collectively, we should stand against a grave miscarriage of justice," De Lima said.

"As enshrined in the Constitution, the SC does not have authority to remove a member of the Court, which can only be done via impeachment. It is the sole prerogative of the Senate to hear and decide impeachment cases," she stressed.

Earlier, De Lima and Sen. Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV filed an opposition-in-Intervention against the quo warranto case to assert that such move in ousting an impeachable officer is illegal and unconstitutional.


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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:May 3, 2018
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