Senate to tackle resolution vs quo warranto on Monday
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.