Senate resolution pushed vs SC quo warranto ruling
A resolution prepared by the Senate minority bloc expressing the sense of the chamber against the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) is now being circulated for senators’ signature.
Edd Gumban

Senate resolution pushed vs SC quo warranto ruling

Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - May 17, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court abused its power in ousting the chief justice through a mere quo warranto petition, and lawmakers must cross party lines to assert their constitutional power of impeachment, according to several senators.

A resolution prepared by the Senate minority bloc expressing the sense of the chamber against the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) is now being circulated for senators’ signature.

“We appeal to the Senate to stand together and call out the Supreme Court for violating the rule of law and denying the Filipino people their right to hear the truth through a public impeachment trial,” Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said yesterday.

“This abuse of power threatens every Filipino and now we senators must make a stand and fulfill our mandate to uphold checks and balances, whatever our political color,” he added.

Aquino said the Senate and all Filipinos should “dissent this abuse to our rights and our sacred Constitution.”

What the senators intend to do next, in case enough signatures are gathered, is unclear. The House of Representatives has said it would wait for the final SC ruling before deciding whether or not to forward to the Senate the impeachment complaint against ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. 

“We must now be fiercely vigilant and discerning of every decision made by the SC. They should know that the Filipino people are watching,” Aquino said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said based on his own count, there should be 13 to 14 senators who would support the resolution based on the public pronouncements they made regarding the issue.

Drilon said the resolution, which has yet to be made available to the media, will be an expression of the sense of the Senate that the route taken by Solicitor General Jose Calida and the SC to remove the Chief Justice is not consistent with the provisions of the Constitution.

The SC granted the quo warranto petition invalidating the appointment of Sereno due to her failure to submit statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Several senators, including Drilon and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, have taken a stand that impeachable officers such as the chief justice can only be removed from office through an impeachment trial where the Senate serves as the court.

They argued that this is the exclusive power granted by the Constitution to the Senate and that the SC, by removing Sereno through a quo warranto petition, effectively took this power away from the upper chamber.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he would sign the resolution because it is consistent with his position about Congress having the exclusive power to remove an impeachable officer.

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Manny Pacquiao, on the other hand, said they will not sign the resolution.

Pacquiao cited the need to respect the decisions of the SC in justifying his position.

Sotto and Pacquiao said passing such a resolution will be akin to the Senate interfering with the mandate of the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government.

Road to dictatorship

A youth group condemned yesterday the SC decision to oust Sereno, saying this is just part of President Duterte’s road to dictatorship.

The Youth Act Now Against Tyranny said Sereno’s ouster is an attack on the independence of the judiciary and further cripples the checks and balances as perpetrated by Duterte and his administration.

Raul Manuel, convenor of the youth group, said Sereno’s ouster is part of Duterte’s bigger plan to control all branches of government.

Manuel slammed Duterte’s apparent moves to silence critics who oppose his plans, which include the administration’s war on drugs.

“The removal of Sereno is just a piece of a puzzle,” he said during a briefing, referring to Duterte’s supposed plan to subject the country to one-man rule.

The group said young Filipinos will not be cowered by Duterte’s constant bullying and attacks on institutions.

The Youth Act group urged young people to not keep silent and instead voice out their opinions against the supposedly growing fascist and tyrannical policies of the Duterte administration.

“This requires the young and the whole nation to put up a fight. We need to be united at this time to bring down the plans of the administration,” Angelica Reyes, deputy secretary-general of Kabataan party-list, said.

Thousands of students are expected to join the Black Friday protest in different universities tomorrow to protest Sereno’s ouster and the Duterte administration’s actions. – With Romina Cabrera

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