House won’t yield to SC
Asserts power to impeach, won’t wait for court ruling on Sereno
CONGRESS will never give up its power to impeach to the Supreme Court, the chairman of the House committee on justice said Sunday, amid talk that a quo warranto petition before the tribunal could oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before her trial at the Senate.
In a radio interview on radio dzBB, panel chairman and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali insisted that the impeachment proceedings would push through, even though Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rodolfo Fariñas had earlier said the House would postpone a plenary vote on the Articles of Impeachment while it waited to see how the Supreme Court would decide on the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
In his petition, Calida had asked the Supreme Court to nullify Sereno’s appointment in 2012 because she failed to meet the requirements for the position at the time.
But Umali said as chairman of the House committee on rules, Fariñas would calendar the justice committee’s report on the impeachment complaint for plenary voting.
“We are discussing different grounds [from the ones raised in the quo warranto petition],” Umali said. “The issues under our jurisdiction are [entirely] different.”
He added that Congress would not wait for a resolution from the Supreme Court before acting on the impeachment complaint, although plenary voting would be pushed back because of the Lenten break.
Umali also allayed the fears of some lawmakers who said the quo warranto petition could be abused to remove any impeachable officials.
A quo warranto petition only questions the qualifications and credentials of an impeachable official, an entirely different case from an impeachment proceeding.
Not all impeachable officials have qualification issues, he said, citing the example of former Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, who went through impeachment proceedings.
Umali said Congress would respect the decision of the Supreme Court on the quo warranto petition, whether it decides to remove her or not.