The House of Representatives will pursue its move to oust Maria Lourdes Sereno via an impeachment complaint if the Supreme Court would reverse its ruling dismissing her as chief justice, Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Committee on Justice, said Thursday, May 17.
“Pag iyan ay nanatili, it’s moot and academic. Kung ‘yan naman ay mabaliktad, kailangang i-file namin ‘yon kasi meron naman kaming kaso [If it stays, it’s moot and academic. If it would be reversed, we need to file it because we have a case],” Umali said during an interview with dzRH, referring to the high tribunal’s 8-6 ruling against Sereno and the impeachment complaint that the lower chamber migth file if the high court’s ruling would be changed and favor the ousted top magistrate.
Umali made the statement after 13 senators signed a draft resolution “respectfully” urging the high court to review its ruling against Sereno and the announcement of the camp of the ousted chief justice that she would soon file a plea asking the high tribunal to reconsider its decision.
Umali expressed confidence that if it happens that the high court reverses its ruling, Sereno would still be removed from office through an impeachment trial at the Senate, citing the opinion of Senior Supreme Associate Justice, who despite dissenting to ousting the chief justice via quo warranto maintained that Sereno had committed an impeachable offense by repeatedly failing to file her statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth.
“In fact, do0n sa Article 1 palang sinabi na ng Supreme Court, in particular (Justice) Carpio,…na may culpable violation of the Constitution sa kanyang pananaw at hinihingi pa nga nya talakayin do’n sa impeachment…,” Umali said.
Opposition Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan disclosed last Wednesday that seven of the 13 senators who had signed the “Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to uphold the Constitution on the matter of removing a Chief Justice from office” were from the majority bloc. They are Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senators Grace Poe, Sonny Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, and Joel Villanueva.
The rest who signed the resolution, which will be filed on Thursday, are from the minority bloc, namely Pangilinan, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and senators Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV. Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes IV and Leila de Lima.
The draft resolution states that, “The Senate recognizes that the continued harmonious independence of these branches lies in the faithful adherence of each branch of government to the Constitution.”
“Now therefore, be it resolved as it is hereby resolved to express the sense of the Senate of the Philippines 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 of Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines,” it added.
In an interview with dzRH Thursday morning, Sereno’s spokesperson, lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, confirmed that the ousted chief justice would file a motion for reconsideration before the high court. But Lacanilao could not yet give the exact date of the filing.
He said Sereno’s lawyers would first take the time to “study and discuss” the high court’s ruling before filing the plea, which could take place on the third week of the month, either May 26 or 27, or two weeks since the ousted chief justice’s camp received a copy of the decision.