Alvarez bucks Con-Com plan on Impeachment

Published May 27, 2018, 2:12 PM

by iManila Developer

By Ellson Quismorio

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez doesn’t subscribe to the proposal of Consultative Committee (Con-Com) to have Congress share its impeachment power with the Judiciary under the envisioned new Charter.

MB FILE – Rep Pantaleon Alvarez (Photo by Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (Photo by Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin File Photo)

“I don’t subscribe to it personally [because] the balance of power [will be jeopardized],” Alvarez, secretary-general of ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) said of the notion.

This notwithstanding, the Speaker promised to look into the consultative body’s suggestion.

“Tingnan natin pagdating dito sa House of Representatives (We will look at it once it gets here at the House of Representatives).”

Headed by former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Reynato Puno, the Con-Com was earlier formed by Malacañang to act as a consultative body in the effort to amend the existing 1987 Constitution. The end goal is the proposed switch to a federal type of government from the current unitary type–something that President Duterte has been batting for.

It is the Con-Com’s task to suggest amendments, which the lawmakers may or may not choose to adopt later.

Earlier, Puno said they want the impeachment process to become a joint jurisdiction of Congress and the Judiciary. This was after the SC en banc voted 8-6 in favor of granting the quo warranto petition against erstwhile incumbent Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The SC ruling removed Sereno from her post by effectively declaring her appointment in 2012 by then president Benigno S. Aquino III void. At that time, Sereno was also the subject of impeachment proceedings in the House.

“Proposal lang nila iyon (That’s just their proposal),” Alvarez said of the Con-Com’s impeachment power-sharing idea.

Under the existing Constitution, only Congress (House and Senate) has the power to remove impeachable officers via the process of impeachment.

However, the upholding of the quo warranto by Sereno’s colleagues somewhat pulled the rug under the lawmakers as there is no longer a sitting Chief Justice to impeach.

Ironically, it was Alvarez who first floated the filing of such petition against Sereno. Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the quo warranto a few weeks after Alvarez made his pronouncement.

Opposition congressman, Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin said the Con-Com’s proposal would justify Sereno’s ouster via the quo warranto instead of impeachment.

“The Duterte-appointed ConCom proposal hews closely to what the present Supreme Court has done to Sereno, who was removed by her peers at the instigation of the President’s Solicitor General,” Villarin said.

“It is like justifying to the public the unconstitutional deed of the eight justices by constitutional fiat via Charter change,” he added.