March 09, 2018 at 01:30 am
Rio N. Araja
FORMER Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, who served as the presiding judge in the impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, will join the House prosecution panel if Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno goes on trial before the Senate, Manila Standard learned Thursday.
The prosecution team, which will include House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and House justice committee chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali, is expected to benefit from Enrile’s experience as an impeachment judge and his knowledge of the law and court procedure.
Also on Thursday, Vice President Leni Robredo assailed the attempt to remove Sereno through a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
“The quo warranto [petition] is outside the Constitution. Under the law, any impeachable officials can only be removed through an impeachment,” she said at a women’s symposium at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City Thursday.
Robredo said the impeachment process should be allowed to take its course instead and decide on Sereno’s fate.
“If [Congress] elevates the impeachment to the Senate, we should wait for the proceedings there since all of us would want the truth to come out,” she said.
Despite the constitutional objections raised about the quo warranto petition, legal experts agreed that the Supreme Court will have the final say on Sereno’s fate.
“The Court is the final arbiter of the Constitution, they have the final say. You might want to disagree with the Supreme Court but they have the final say,” said former solicitor general Florin Hilbay on ANC’s Headstart.
“Ultimately, it is the SC that will say what the law is and what rules will apply. Only the current composition can decide whether the Court is going to be passive and exercise judicial restraint, or whether it is going to be an activist court that will set precedent and create another avenue for the removal of a sitting chief justice,” said Integrated Bar of the Philippines national president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo.
Fajardo added that Sereno would have a hard time convincing her colleagues to drop the quo warranto petition because she is unpopular among the other justices, some of whom believe she was elevated to the post unfairly.
The Court has asked Sereno to respond to the quo warranto petition, instead of dismissing it outright.