By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III warned that the Supreme Court (SC) might “circumvent” the law should it favor the quo warranto petition and oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Pimentel, in a phone interview Thursday, said his piece when asked about the court proceedings on the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, who seeks to remove Sereno from office.
“Ang aking personal na belief dyan, ‘pag sinabi mong (My personal belief on that, is when you say) Senate has the sole power to act as an impeachment court, ano ba purpose (what is the purpose)? When you convict, you remove an impeachable official,” the Senate chief told reporters.
“Ngayon kung (Now, if the) quo warranto will end in removing, are you not circumventing that principle? Napaka na-shortcut ang buong impeachment process. Na ang korte na ang nag impeach, ang korte na ang nagconvict, so ang korte na ang nag remove, diba (The whole impeachment process was cut short. That the court has impeached, convicted, and removed the official),” he added.
Pimentel said Sereno, anyway, can still appeal thru a motion for reconsideration, if the SC would decide in favor of Calida. This, he said, shows that the impeachment should push through in Congress.
He said he hopes the House of Representatives would transmit to the Senate the articles of impeachment soon.
“Sa tingin ko darating pa rin yung time na itatransmit na ng House sa Senate kahit na magdecide ang SC kasi may right na mag-MR ang respondent eh, so dapat maghanda na ang Senate para wala nang iwas (I think the time would come that the House would transmit to the Senate the articles of impeachment because the respondent has the right to file an MR. So the Senate must prepare),” Pimentel said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes, earlier, said that the quo warranto petition undermines the Senate’s authority over an impeachable official. He and Sen. Leila de Lima appealed to the SC to dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.
Trillanes says he plans to file a resolution to call for the sense of the Senate to uphold its power to impeach an official. He said he is confident that “thinking” and “independent-minded” senators will support the measure.
Pimentel, meanwhile, assured that he will “keep reminding myself and fellow senators that we took an oath as impeachment court judges so we will just have to be true on our oath.”