‘A CRUCIAL STEP’ | Congress should wait for SC’s final decision on quo warranto – Umali

9 months ago

MAY 16, 2018 – House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali says that it is to the best interest of the nation for Congress to wait for the Supreme Court’s final decision on the quo warranto petition against former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before it makes its next move.

“I think it will be prudent to await whatever action, final action of the Supreme Court will take on the matter so that we don’t lose anything at this point in time… whether it will sustain its earlier ruling or we will take action accordingly,” Umali said in a phone interview with One News on Monday.

On Friday, magistrates, voting 8-6, granted the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Sereno, thus invalidating her appointment as chief justice. Sereno has 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration before the SC rules the petition with finality.

Under the Constitution, an impeachable officer like the chief justice may only be removed from position through a proper impeachment proceeding wherein the House of Representatives (HOR) votes to impeach an officer and the Senate, acting as an impeachment court, convicts if proven guilty.

Last March 8, 2018, the House Justice Committee, voting 38-2, found probable cause to impeach the then Chief Justice Sereno. HOR has yet to conduct a plenary vote and transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

The HOR, as an equal and independent branch of government, may render the impeachment proceedings as ‘moot and academic’ or opt to continue the proceedings amid the decision of the judiciary.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel sees the possibility of a constitutional crisis if Congress rejects the SC decision. In an interview with DWIZ, Pimentel explains a scenario.

“Bakit ko sinabi na magkaka-crisis tayo? Kasi sa mata ng Supreme Court, tanggal na si Chief Justice eh, [pero] sa mata ng Kongreso, hindi pa tanggal si Chief Justice, then we have a problem. Kasi ano talagang status niya? Tanggal o hindi tanggal?” Pimentel said.

“Pero kung sa tingin ng House wala na silang kailangang i-impeach kasi tanggal na ang Chief Justice, eh wala tayong constitutional crisis dito,” he added.

Pimentel stresses that Congress’ next step will be a a crucial matter.

“Crucial po ‘yun kasi kung hindi sila sumang-ayon sa desisyon ng Supreme Court at sa tingin nila nakaupo pa rin si Chief Justice Sereno, then that is already a start of a clash. Pwedeng posibleng clash ng Congress at ng Supreme Court.”

The House of Representatives and Senate has resumed its sessions on Monday after an eight-week Lenten break.