Opposition: House leaders, some SC justices colluding to oust CJ Sereno

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 6) — Some opposition lawmakers said there may be a possible collusion between the House leadership and some of the Supreme Court (SC) justices to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from her post.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said Tuesday House Justice Committee Chairman Reynaldo Umali was in touch with SC justices after the en banc hearing last week, where 13 Justices urged Sereno to go on indefinite leave.

"Most probably, no less than the Committee on Justice, realizes that their articles of impeachment cannot hold water in the Senate," Lagman said in a press conference with Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice and Magdalo Party-list Representative Gary Alejano.

Umali, however, refuted Lagman's claims.

"Nakakatawa ang mga ganoong paratang. Sana pag-isipan nila nang mabuti before they accuse me of anything," Umali said.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he believes there is basis to invalidate Sereno's appointment over her failure to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.

"Yung impeachment, exclusive yun sa Congress, but it presupposes a valid appointment. Ngayon yung quo warranto, kinukwestyon mismo yung appointment itself, yung validity. So tama yun, kasi yun naman ay palagay ko talagang exclusive ng judicial branch of government," Alvarez said.

Alvarez said, however, he will yield to the Supreme Court should it decide to remove Sereno over the petition.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday asked the SC through a quo warranto petition to declare Sereno's appointment invalid over an alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth.

A quo warranto is an extraordinary legal proceeding where an individual's right to hold office is challenged.

On the other hand, the impeachment process is a way to remove impeachable officers for culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust.

Sereno's spokesperson lawyer Jojo Lacanilao said a sitting justice can only be removed through impeachment, citing a 1988 case against then Justice Marcelo Fernan.

The Chief Justice earlier called for respect for the impeachment process "by allowing it to take the only allowed course under the Constitution."

She urged Congress to finally begin an impeachment trial and hit her critics for resorting to various actions to malign her.

Once the panel finds probable cause to impeach her, the House plenary will vote. If at least one-third of the members of the House of Representatives vote to impeach Sereno, the complaint would go to trial at the Senate.

Sereno is accused of violating the Constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes which are grounds for impeachment under the Constitution. She repeatedly denied the allegations and asked for the complaint to be junked.