House may impeach Sereno in next 2 months
“It will be done once we resume sessions,” Alvarez told GMA 7 News to Go. Congress will resume session on May 15 after a two-month legislative break, which began on March 21. He said a decision would come in the “first week or second week” from the resumption of session.
Krizjohn Rosales
House may impeach Sereno in next 2 months
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The administration-controlled House of Representatives will decide on the impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno late next month, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said yesterday.

“It will be done once we resume sessions,” Alvarez told GMA 7 News to Go. Congress will resume session on May 15 after a two-month legislative break, which began on March 21. He said a decision would come in the “first week or second week” from the resumption of session.

A House decision is likely to precede a Supreme Court ruling on a petition for Sereno’s ouster by her peers, filed by the government’s chief lawyer.

Alvarez said that due to time constraints, the 292-member chamber failed to adopt the resolution of the House justice committee finding probable cause to impeach Sereno. The chamber also failed to meet its March 21 target of adopting the six articles of impeachment.

“We didn’t make it, but I’m sure when we return after first week or second week, it’ll be over,” the Davao del Norte congressman said.

The votes of at least 98 lawmakers, or one-third of the House, would be needed under the Constitution for the chamber to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which would convene as an impeachment court.

Alvarez, a stalwart of the ruling PDP-Laban party, said he would heed the call of President Duterte to “fast-track” Sereno’s impeachment.

Irked by Sereno’s linking him to moves for her ouster, Duterte said he would ask Congress to act swiftly on the impeachment case.

The Speaker also pointed out the impeachment process in Congress would be rendered moot and academic if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Sereno. The SC ended its oral arguments on the petition late Tuesday.

The quo warranto case is a legal action that questions the validity of Sereno’s appointment while the impeachment process seeks to make her accountable for actions while in office.

“Who are we going to impeach if she turns out to be a fake chief justice or a fake justice? If she is not really the chief justice or a justice, then we have nobody to impeach,” Alvarez said.

“For me, it’s OK to fast track the impeachment complaint. We’re hoping that the House committee on rules will bring to the plenary the impeachment complaint as well as the articles of impeachment for their (lawmakers) approval,” Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali, chairman of the House committee on justice, said.

Sereno will serve as chief justice for 18 years, or until mid-2030 when she turns 70.

Her SC colleagues, meanwhile, are likely to decide on the quo warranto case by June.

After a day of oral arguments last Tuesday, parties in the case were given 10 days to submit their respective memorandum before a ruling could be handed down.

If the court fails to rule on the case this month, it will have to wait until June before issuing a ruling as it will go on a “decision-writing break” in May.

Sereno, currently on indefinite leave, is seeking the dismissal of the case, arguing that the SC has no jurisdiction and authority to remove her from office because the 1987 Constitution provides that she could only be ousted by impeachment. – Edu Punay

MARIA LOURDES SERENO PANTALEON ALVAREZ
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