Opposition seeks Senate's united stand on jurisdiction on Sereno

MANILA, Philippines – Minority senators are seeking the chamber’s united stand that only the Senate could remove impeachable officials.

This came after the Supreme Court, voting 8-6, granted the quo warranto petition ousting former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

A resolution, drafted by the opposition, is now being routed to senators both in the majority and minority blocs. Senators from both fences have slammed the SC decision, calling it unconstitutional.

“We are looking at the possibility of moving for a sense of the Senate resolution reiterating our legal position that it is the Senate acting, as an impeachment court, who can remove impeachable officers,” Drilon told reporters on Tuesday, May 15.

Drilon said the resolution is meant “to inform the Supreme Court of the sentiment of the Senate insofar as the legal issue is concerned.”

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said such resolution would be referred to the proper committee. Asked if he himself would file one, Pimentel said he already expressed his dissent to the SC ruling against Sereno.

Pimentel maintained that the 1987 Constitution clearly states that the proper way to oust an impeachable officer such as Sereno is through impeachment, not a quo warranto petition.

“In the passing of resolution, merong rules. Kung meron magfa-file na isang senador, we will have to entertain the resolution. It will be referred to the proper committee,” Pimentel said.

(In the passing of a resolution, we have rules for that. If there is a senator who would file one, we will have to entertain the resolution. It will be referred to the proper committee.)

At least two administration senators, however, opposed the passage of the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, for his part, opposed any resolution on the SC decision.

“I don’t think so. It’s not proper. We should not interfere with the judiciary in as much as we want to make sure that the judiciary does not interfere with our legislation,” Sotto said.

Senator Cynthia Villar also expressed hesitation with the minority-backed measure.

Resolution lang yun, but that has no power… Eh usually minority [ang nagfa-file]. Eh di naman kami nagsu-support ng resolution nila eh,” Villar said.

(That's just a resolution, it has no power. It is usually the minority who files that. But we do not support the minority group's resolutions.) – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com