Senator Francis Escudero and Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Thursday rejected the call to the senators to pass a resolution asking the Supreme Court to suspend its quo warranto proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Jailed Senator Leila de Lima wants her colleagues to heed this request.
“No. The House has not yet even impeached her,” Escudero said.
He said there was no impeachment case before the Senate to even speak of. It would be presumptuous for the Senate to assume that one would be filed sometime in the future against Sereno.
“So what so-called right will the Senate as an institution be asserting and fighting for? Our putative right to try a non-existent impeachment case?” Escudero said.
He said if, indeed, Sereno’s rights to due process were being violated, the proper forum to ventilate the issue was the Supreme Court.
Sotto said he was not inclined to support a resolution in Sereno’s case.
“Firstly, it would be best that we take a hard look at the separation of powers embodied in the Constitution. We cannot interfere in the work of the SC in the same way that they cannot interfere with ours,” Sotto said.
In her Solidarity Message for the Coalition for Justice that was read during a brief ceremony at the Senate, De Lima underscored the Senate’s sole prerogative as an independent branch of government to decide on the impeachment trial.
“Together, we should speak out and stand up for the Constitution and the system of checks and balances in government. Collectively, we should stand against a grave miscarriage of justice,” De Lima said.
“As enshrined in the Constitution, the SC does not have the authority to remove a member of the Court, which can only be done via impeachment. It is the sole prerogative of the Senate to hear and decide impeachment cases.”
The convenors and members of the Coalition for Justice held a brief press conference at the Senate building on May 2 to urge the senators to pass a resolution pressing the high court to suspend the quo warranto petition against Sereno.
Solicitor General Jose Calida has filed a quo warranto petition seeking to oust Sereno, whom he accuses of “unlawfully holding” her post due to her alleged failure to make a full disclosure in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
In response, De Lima, along with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, filed an Opposition-in-Intervention against the quo warranto case to assert that such legal move in ousting an impeachable official was illegal and unconstitutional.
As petitioners, De Lima and Trillanes also filed a manifestation in the form of a special appeal to the members of the high court to take a second look at the situation, to set aside their emotions and protect the integrity of the institution.
De Lima said she hoped that, by now, her colleagues had already realized how President Rodrigo Duterte was only using the entire
State machinery to fulfill his selfish whim.
De Lima reminded her fellow senators that, as lawmakers, they were always expected to protect, defend and uphold the Constitution for the greater good.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the minority was supporting the stand of the Coalition for Justice.