THE House of Representatives (HoR) to “expedite” the impeachment process against the seven Supreme Court associate justices who ruled in favor of the quo warranto case that ousted former chief justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, according to House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“The most important thing is to expedite it, one way or another, so that it does not really disturb the legislative agenda,” Ms. Arroyo told reporters on Friday, Aug. 24, after the distribution of relief goods to the Aeta community in Sitio Pasbul, Brgy. Camias, Porac, Pampanga.
She added: “I checked with the Secretary General this morning on my way here. He has already transmitted the impeachment charge to my office, and then they will send me the transmittal for my signature later here in Pampanga so that I can transmit it also today to the Rules Committee.”
Ms. Arroyo said the Rules Committee “can have [the complaint] read out on Tuesday.”
For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said the Palace is confident that the impeachment complaint filed against the seven justices will be dismissed for lack of merit.
In an interview with radion station DZRH, Mr. Roque said: “Well, naniniwala po kami na walang merito iyan at inaasahan namin na mababasura kaagad iyan ng Committee on Justice. Eh kasi, whether be it on form or substance nakita po natin na nasa hurisdiksyon ng Korte Suprema iyong desisyon nila kay dating Chief Justice Sereno.”
(Well, we believe it has no merit, and we expect the Committee on Justice to junk it; because whether be it on form or substance, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the decision on former Chief Sereno.)
He explained: “Ang sabi po ng Saligang Batas, merong hurisdiksyon ang Korte Suprema pagdating sa mga petisyon para sa quo warranto. So, hindi ko po maintindihan, kung bakit naging impeachable offense iyan.”
(According to the Constitution, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction when it comes to quo warranto petitions. So, I do not understand what makes this an impeachable offense.)
For his part, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said in a statement on Friday that the impeachment complaints against the associate justices “will not see the light of day.”
He added, “If the opposition legislators’ logic will be followed, then all Justices, whose constitutional interpretation differ from them, can be impeached. Worst, following also this logic, Justices who dissented from the majority view in constitutional cases, can also be impeached. This will reduce impeachment to a mere vengeance mechanism, far from which it is intended for.”
Citing “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust,” Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman, Magdalo Rep. Gary C. Alejano, Ifugao Rep. Teddy B. Baguilat, Jr., and Akbayan Rep. Tomasito S. Villarin filed an impeachment complaint last Thursday against Justices Teresita L. de Castro, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Andres B. Reyes, Francis H. Jardeleza, Noel G. Tijam, and Alexander G. Gesmundo.
The opposition lawmakers said the “petition for quo warranto or any other mode of removal is anathema to the unequivocal mandate of the Constitution that the power to impeach is solely vested with the Congress.” — Arjay L. Balinbin with Gillian M. Cortez