Se­nate to tackle res­o­lu­tion vs quo war­ranto on Mon­day

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By ALEXIS ROMERO

The Se­nate will take up next Mon­day a res­o­lu­tion signed by 14 of its mem­bers, in­clud­ing the out­go­ing pres­i­dent of the cham­ber, seek­ing review of the Supreme Court (SC)’s de­ci­sion to oust Maria Lour­des Sereno as chief jus­tice through a quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion.

Mala­cañang said yes­ter­day it was up to the Se­nate as an in­de­pen­dent in­sti­tu­tion to pass the res­o­lu­tion.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque pointed out, how­ever, that sign­ing of the res­o­lu­tion might be pre­ma­ture, as the cham­ber has not re­ceived the ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment against Sereno.

“The sen­a­tors are free to sign such a res­o­lu­tion. The res­o­lu­tion of course, forms part of their in­her­ent leg­isla­tive pow­ers. But we also note the state­ment of Sen. Ping Lac­son that it ap­pears to be pre­ma­ture, be­cause no ar­ti­cles of

im­peach­ment have been for­warded to the Se­nate,” Roque said in a press brief­ing yes­ter­day.

Lac­son had said the Supreme Court should be al­lowed to de­cide on the quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion against Sereno.

The se­na­tor made the re­marks months be­fore the high court is­sued the rul­ing oust­ing the chief jus­tice through quo war­ranto filed by the Of­fice of the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral.

“But of course, we re­spect com­pletely the dis­cre­tion of the Se­nate to file this res­o­lu­tion,” Roque said. “The po­si­tion of the Pres­i­dent is he al­lows the sen­a­tors to per­form their du­ties.”

Vot­ing 8-6, the Supreme Court voided the ap­point­ment of Sereno last week be­cause of her fail­ure to file some of her state­ments of as­sets, li­a­bil­i­ties and net worth.

In its 153-page rul­ing penned by As­so­ciate Jus­tice Noel Ti­jam, the high court said the chief jus­tice was in­el­i­gi­ble to hold the post of chief mag­is­trate for “lack of in­tegrity.”

Sereno has ac­cused the jus­tices who voted to oust her of de­stroy­ing the ju­di­ciary and vi­o­lat­ing their oath to de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers said the rul­ing was a blow to ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence as it would al­low Pres­i­dent Duterte to de­stroy his op­po­nents in all branches of gov­ern­ment.

A to­tal of 14 sen­a­tors signed Se­nate Res­o­lu­tion 738 filed by Sen. Fran­cis Pangili­nan yes­ter­day.

The sen­a­tors who signed the res­o­lu­tion aside from Pangili­nan were Fran­cis Es­cud­ero, An­to­nio Tril­lanes IV, Sonny An­gara, Leila de Lima, Grace Poe, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Sher­win Gatchalian, Risa Hon­tiveros, Joel Vil­lanueva, Loren Le­garda, Mi­nor­ity Leader Franklin Drilon, Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore Ralph Recto and Se­nate Pres­i­dent Aquilino Pi­mentel III.

Since ple­nary ses­sions are held from Mon­day to Wed­nes­day only, the res­o­lu­tion would have to wait until Mon­day next week to be tackled.

The res­o­lu­tion ex­presses the sense of the Se­nate “to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion on the mat­ter of re­mov­ing a Chief Jus­tice from of­fice and re­spect­fully urge the Supreme Court to review its de­ci­sion to nul­lify the ap­point­ment of Maria Lour­des Sereno as Chief Jus­tice of the Supreme Court of the Philip­pines.”

Only through im­peach­ment

Cit­ing Ar­ti­cle XI Sec­tion 2 of the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion, the res­o­lu­tion states that mem­bers of the Supreme Court “may be re­moved from of­fice on im­peach­ment for, and con­vic­tion of, cul­pa­ble vi­o­la­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

The res­o­lu­tion pointed out the con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion stat­ing that the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has the ex­clu­sive power to ini­ti­ate all cases of im­peach­ment and that the Se­nate has the sole power to try and de­cide all cases of im­peach­ment.

“The Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion to grant the quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion sets a dan­ger­ous prece­dent that trans­gresses the ex­clu­sive pow­ers of the leg­isla­tive branch to ini­ti­ate, try and de­cide all cases of im­peach­ment,” the res­o­lu­tion read.

“A fun­da­men­tal doc­trine of a re­pub­li­can gov­ern­ment is the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers of the ex­ec­u­tive, leg­isla­tive and ju­di­cial branches of gov­ern­ment; and while the doc­trine does not guar­an­tee ab­so­lute au­ton­omy in the dis­charge of func­tions of each branch, the corol­lary doc­trine of checks and bal­ances en­sures their co­equal­ity,” it added.

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