By Mario Casayuran
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Monday he and other senators cannot be influenced by anybody, including former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, in the event the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno reaches the Senate.
Lacson, in a radio interview, issued the statement after Enrile joined the House of Representatives’ battery of prosecution team as its adviser in the impending impeachment case against the Chief Justice.
‘’Maybe the issue being raised here is the propriety being a former Senate President with many colleagues in the Senate, he could influence,’’ he said.
‘’But I assure you, as far as I’m concerned and I can speak on behalf of the others, we cannot be influenced, not even by former SP (Senate President) Enrile,’’ he said.
Lacson, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and chairman of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee, said that Enrile, now 94 years old, used to be the presiding officer of an impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona.
‘’Qualification-wise, competence-wise, there’s no question. Now, he being a member of the prosecution team, that should be decided by the whole prosecution team of the House of Representatives,’’ he added.
Asked on the possible filing of impeachment complaint against Sereno, Lacson replied: ‘’Every person is entitled to his or her day in court. It’s as simple as that. CJ (Chief Justice) Sereno is not an exception.’’
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House justice committee which conducted public hearings on varied charges leveled against Sereno, had said Enrile would be the adviser of the private prosecution team ‘’and we have agreed.’’
Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said the inclusion of Enrile in the impeachment team is a welcome development.
He said Enrile’s vast experience and familiarity with the Constitution would help boost the prosecution’s mission to convict the Chief Justice.
Umali said he agreed with Abu that Enrile would be a big boost to their team, especially in formulating legal strategies and providing high quality professional and legal services.
Corona was ousted as Chief Justice after majority of senator-judges convicted him in the trial for his failure to disclose his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) which is one of the charges in the impeachment complaint against Sereno.