Congress defers acting on Sereno impeachment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) — Both houses of Congress are waiting for the Supreme Court to decide with finality its decision to oust Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice – before they act on her impeachment case.

The House Committee on Rules was supposed to discuss its next action on Sereno's impeachment during its regular weekly meeting on Tuesday, but its chairman, House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas removed the item from the committee's agenda.

"I have excluded it in our agenda because we will wait for the action of the Supreme Court out of respect to a co-equal department. " Fariñas told reporters.

The impeachment proceeding was preempted after the Supreme Court unseated Sereno in a historic ruling on May 11. The Supreme Court said its ruling is "immediately executory," although Sereno has 15 days to appeal the decision.

Fariñas said the House Committee on Justice's report, which include the Articles of Impeachment against Sereno, will be among the plenary's order of business on July 25.

He said the report was already transmitted to his committee, which gives it 10 days, or until July 25, to bring it to the plenary. If a vote of 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.

If the High Court decides to junk Sereno's appeal, Fariñas said he will move to dismiss the impeachment proceeding against Sereno because it will be considered moot and academic.

But if the Supreme Court overturns its earlier decision, House will vote on Sereno's impeachment, Fariñas said.

Senate President Koko Pimentel in a separate interview said the upper chamber will not move until the articles of impeachment are transmitted to them by the House of Representatives.

"For as long as walang articles of impeachment na na-file sa senado, the Senate cannot constitute itself as an impeachment court so it's a passive institution as far as the impeachment is concerned," Pimentel said.

Senators urged to assert right over impeachable officials

The group Coalition for Justice staged a protest outside Senate on Tuesday, calling on the legislators to assert their exclusive right over impeachable officials. They insist that impeachment is the only way to remove a Chief Justice according to the Constitution.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the minority is finalizing an initiative to assert the authority of the Senate on Sereno's impeachment.

Pimentel said if and when a resolution is filed by a senator to assert the authority of the Senate over impeachment proceedings then the Senate will have to entertain the resolution and this will be referred to the proper committee for deliberation.

Sereno herself had asked her colleagues at the Supreme Court to junk her quo warranto case and "give me my day in the Senate impeachment court."

She is the first top magistrate to be ousted by the Supreme Court, over her alleged incomplete filing of statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth. She said she will only present her missing SALNs before the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas, Cecille Lardizabal, and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.