Alvarez: Sereno impeachment a constitutional, not political, process
MANILA, Philippines – What politics?
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday, December 7, insisted that the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is a constitutional more than a political process.
“For me it is a constitutional process. Because it’s part of the checks and balances between the executive, legislative, and judiciary,” said Alvarez in an interview with Pinky Webb on CNN Philippines.
Alvarez was asked about the ongoing impeachment hearing on a complaint filed against Sereno by lawyer Larry Gadon. The committee on justice, tasked to process impeachment complaints, has been holding hearings to determine probable cause.
Speaking to Webb, Alvarez said it was Sereno’s duty to stand before the committee, a chance which she had turned down, thus far. Sereno had wanted her lawyers to represent her before the committee, but it barred her counsels from participating in proceedings.
“You but have that obligation, because when you took your oath of office, you said, you swore to defend and protect the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of the Philippines,” said Alvarez, quoting another Supreme Court justice, Noel Tijam, who is set to be a witness in the impeachment hearings.
Alvarez also said it was “unfair” for Sereno to think that committee members had already “pre-judged” her.
“That’s an unfair statement. You know why? Because if we had pre-judgment, we should have pushed the impeachment case right away,” said Alvarez, who previously said that the case must be fleshed out at the House before it is brought up to the Senate.
Alvarez said this is because he does not want a repeat of the “unfair” impeachment of the late chief justice Renato Corona. Under House rules, an impeachment case immediately reaches plenary if it is endorsed by at least one-third of the House.
The Gadon complaint had 25 signatories.
In a press conference on December 6, Alvarez had also defended the House justice committee, saying it was out merely to find the truth in the impeachment complaint. He also said that so far, the hearings show that Sereno’s denials have no basis.
The committee is expected to vote on probable cause by January 2018. It will forward the committee report – on whether to reject the complaint or impeach Sereno – to the plenary shortly after. If one-third of the House accept a report proposing Sereno’s impeachment, she will be deemed impeached.
The Senate will then convene as an impeachment court. – Rappler.com