The impeachment complaint against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will only be thrown out once the Supreme Court (SC) rules with finality on her quo warranto case, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said on Tuesday, May 15.
Members of the Coalition for Justice (CFJ) headed to the Senate to restate their call on the institution to take a collective stand against the SC’s decision to grant the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida due to Sereno’s supposed failure to file her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
The CFJ has gone to the Senate before to voice its position but was rejected by members of the majority bloc due to the “inappropriateness” of the upper chamber to come out with such a resolution when the SC was still hearing the case.
Now that the matter has been resolved by the SC, the CFJ asked the Senate to assert its exclusive right to remove impeachable officials accused of wrongdoing through an impeachment trial.
In CFJ’s open letter that they delivered to each senator’s office, it said that “if the decision remains unchallenged and the Senate’s duty is unperformed, the dire fallout on our system and people will lie at the Senate’s door.”
“Please act now to save our democratic institutions from tyranny. Your courageous intervention is the succor our gasping democracy requires,” it added.
The SC’s ruling on Sereno’s case would have dire consequences on judicial independence and separation of powers as enshrined in the Constitution, according to the CFJ.
“The decision grants the Executive the power to oppress dissenters. It is the death knell for democracy and our system of checks and balances,” the CFJ stated.
Fortunately, the Senate still has time to make its voice heard since the ruling is not final yet and Sereno is expected to file an appeal.
The CFJ beseeched the Senate to not surrender its constitutional mandate as an impeachment court.
“If this decision becomes final, the public will ask why the Senate did not act. Already their courage is building. They are calling for justice, as we are,” the CFJ said.
Various senators have voiced their disagreement over the SC’s ruling on the quo warranto petition. Among them is Sen. Risa Hontiveros who has indicated that she would file a resolution to express the sense of the Senate that it has the sole authority to remove impeachable officials.
“If someone files, we will entertain the resolution. Let us wait and see if there is a senator who will file a resolution. I have already issued my statement, if we could all review the Supreme Court decision, including the Supreme Court, please review,” Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said.
Malacañang, for its part, described as “purely speculative” claims that the SC decision has made the solicitor general very powerful.
“What is clear is that the quo warranto was filed against a specific government official who was required to file her SALNs by virtue of the Constitution and the law. So if there was no violation of that provision of the Constitution, the solicitor general will not have that power,” Roque said.
According to him, the SC merely asserted the “supremacy of the Constitution” in granting the quo warranto petition.
Roque said Sereno may find it hard to reverse the decision of the high court as the ruling can only be reversed if two of the eight justices who voted to oust her change their position.
“I wish her the best, but with the decision, which is more than 150 pages, it may be difficult because it seems that the justices really thought out their decision,” he said.