Several senators disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, calling it a violation of the Constitution, warning of its repercussions on the rule of law.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto maintained that “you can only remove the Chief Justice through impeachment,” saying the decision is a bad precedent.
“The decision in effect reduced the powers of both houses of Congress. I do not expect the House to impeach the Chief Justice,” Recto also said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV called the ruling the “darkest hour in our democracy” as the Supreme Court “killed the Constitution.”
“The SC, which is supposed to be the cradle of our fragile Constitution, is the same body that killed it. Those SC justices who committed this heinous crime against our justice system must not and will not go unpunished,” he said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said that the ruling undermined the constitutional process of impeachment, submitting, instead, to the “whims” of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“This is a black day for justice and the rule of law. The Supreme Court has fallen, and fallen hard in the eyes of the public,” she said in a statement.
She implored the public to continue the fight “to defend the integrity of the country’s democratic institutions.”
Like Hontiveros, Senators Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, and Sonny Angara also disagreed with the ruling of the high court against Sereno, believing that the only constitutional route for removing a chief justice is through impeachment.
“With all due respect, I totally disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court,” Drilon said in a separate statement.
“A quo warranto proceeding is not the proper, legal, and constitutional way to remove an erring impeachable officer. The Constitution is clear that the only remedy on erring constitutional officers like the Chief Justice is a conviction in an impeachment proceeding,” he said.
“I do not agree with the decision because impeachment is the only constitutional route for removal of a CJ but acknowledge that the Court has spoken,” Angara said.
“What is important here is that Sereno be given her day in court, and that day must come before the Senate acting as an Impeachment Court, not the Supreme Court,” Gatchalian added.
Voting 8 to 6, the high tribunal granted the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Sereno.