By Hannah Torregoza
At least 13 senators have signed a draft Senate resolution questioning the Supreme Court’s decision granting the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The resolution, which was initiated by the Senate minority bloc, specifically expresses the sense of the Senate to uphold the Constitution on the matter of removing a Chief Justice from office.
The document also stressed that the High Tribunal’s May 11, 2018 ruling, voting 8-6, and granting the petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, sets “a dangerous precedent that transgresses the exclusive powers of the Legislative branch to initiate, try and decide all cases of impeachment.”
Those who have signed were Senate minority Franklin Drilon, Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Leila de Lima, Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, Ralph Recto, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Sherwin Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva, Grace Poe, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Pimentel said he finds nothing wrong with the draft resolution and hoped that their colleagues would support the resolution.
“Because the decision in the Sereno case, if allowed to stand, will in due time subvert the powers of Congress to impeach high ranking government officials,” Pimentel said.
Hontiveros, for her part, urged senators to cross party lines and safeguard the integrity of the country’s democratic institutions.
“I appeal to my fellow Senators to cross party lines and unite in defending the integrity of the Senate. We cannot issue strong statements on this travesty of the inviolability of the Constitution, yet not back it up with decisive action. We must not allow the Senate to be relegated to a hollow institution howling ineffectually at the margins,” Hontiveros added.
She said the SC’s decision, unfortunately, severely upsets the constitutional balance of governance and weakened our system of checks and balances.
“Unless reversed, the decision will virtually render obsolete the country’s constitutional process of impeachment,” she said.
Hontiveros reiterated that the Senate has the duty and responsibility to formally communicate with the Supreme Court and ask it to review its decision and restore balance among the different co-equal branches of the government.
“This is not about the Chief Justice and the accusations lodged against her. This is about safeguarding the integrity of our democratic institutions, diffusing the tension among the different branches of government and preventing a constitutional crisis,” she said.