The chairman of the House committee on justice has maintained that the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the Supreme Court has no legal bearing on the impeachment bid being undetaken against her in Congress.
Unless the SC decides in favor of the quo warranto, then the impeachment case against Sereno will be rendered moot, Umali, the panel’s chairman, said.
But Umali was quick to say that, “we should not pre-empt the decision of the SC.”
“Impeachment proceedings are sui generis. It is not similar to any other,” Umali, the panel’s chairperson, said.
“Impeachment presupposes a valid appointment while quo warranto questions the qualifications of an officer and that is well within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.”
For his part, Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting said whatever will be the decision of the SC on the matter has to be respected.
“I give respect to the Supreme Court as it is a co-equal branch of government with Congress. It is their prerogative,” Tambunting, an administration ally, said.
The two lawmakers made the comment as SC magistrates reportedly will vote on the Sereno’s quo warranto on May 11, instead of the original May 17 schedule.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said the House of Representatives would be able to approve the Articles of Impeachment against Sereno within a week or two after the resumption of session of Congress on May 15.
Alvarez said that the House justice committee had already found probable cause to impeach Sereno and prepared the corresponding committee report and Articles of Impeachment against her.
Before Congress adjourned last March 21 the Committee on Rules referred the matter for plenary consideration. Congress will resume session on May 15.
The vote of at least one-third of all members of the House of Representatives is needed to approve the Articles of Impeachment and transmit the case to the Senate for trial.
Alvarez said the impeachment process in Congress would be rendered moot and academic if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the quo warranto case.
The quo warranto case, according to Alvarez, is a separate legal course of action that questions the validity of Sereno’s appointment to the office.
On the other hand, Alvarez said the impeachment process seeks to make an impeachable official accountable for the actions he made while serving in office.