By Camille A. Aguinaldo
SENATE PRESIDENT Aquilino L. Pimentel III on Wednesday said the Senate as an impeachment court would still need to vote on the validity of the quo warranto case on Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno if the Supreme Court decided to nullify her appointment.
In a forum in Manila, Mr. Pimentel said they may proceed with the impeachment trial in case the House of Representatives transmits the articles of impeachment before the quo warranto case ruled against Ms. Sereno.
“If the majority says it was a valid removal, there’s no more need to remove because impeachment is removal. If the majority says it’s invalid then from our point of view, there is someone to remove. We will proceed with the impeachment,” he said.
The SC earlier held oral arguments on the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor-General (OSG) seeking to void Ms. Sereno’s appointment as the country’s top judge due to her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth. Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio has said the SC en banc may decide on the case by the end of May.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez has said the lower chamber may impeach Ms. Sereno a week or two after congressional sessions resume on May 15.
As the ball is still with the House of Representatives, Mr. Pimentel said the Senate would await the action of the House if the SC issued its ruling on the quo warranto case before the articles of impeachment are transmitted.
“If the Supreme Court should decide on the quo warranto case against the Chief Justice, then let us see whether the House will accept the decision of the Supreme Court, and of course the people, we will see their reaction,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Sereno during a forum on Wednesday reiterated that she was ready to face the impeachment trial at the Senate, noting the reluctance of the House to transmit the articles of impeachment even after the President’s orders to hasten the case.
“If they are so sure why are they so hesitant?… I can fully prove in the Senate with both documentary and testimonial evidence,” she said.
In a related development, the OSG has denied the petition of a private citizen asking Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida to initiate a quo warranto case against Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro.
“The argument which the OSG propounded against Sereno does not apply to Justice De Castro since it was Sereno who was appointed as the Chief Justice without the qualifications back in 2012. In view of the above, your request is denied for lack of merit,” the OSG stated in its April 23 letter to Jocelyn F. Acosta as released to the media on Wednesday.
Invoking the same grounds with Ms. Sereno’ case, Ms. Acosta said Ms. De Castro also failed to submit all her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when she applied for the chief justice position in 2012.