Pimentel assures Sereno of fair impeach trial

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2018 04:39 PM

Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Composite

MANILA- Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Wednesday assured Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno of a fair impeachment trial in the event that she faces one.

Speaking to reporters, Pimentel said they will rely on evidence in case Sereno's trial pushes through. 

“If there is no evidence, then acquit but if there is evidence, we also have to consider convicting," he said.

"That’s why the burden is on the House if they will now file the impeachment complaint here in the Senate, they should be prepared to prove their case. Walang kaibi-kaibigan dun sa kaso,” he added.

Pimentel added that the Senate is willing to provide special lectures to senators who will join the impeachment trial process for the first time.

He was among the 20 senator-judges who convicted the late chief justice Renato Corona for his failure to publicly disclose his full statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth.

Corona, the first top magistrate of the country to be ousted, was succeeded by Sereno, who is also facing impeachment on similar grounds.

Sereno's camp previously said the Chief Justice "looks forward" to her impeachment trial at the Senate as she is counting on the chamber for fairness.

Lawmakers at the House of Representatives have yet to decide whether or not the impeachment complaint against the top magistrate has probable cause.

Senator Grace Poe echoed Pimentel's statements in expressing hopes for a fair trial.

“Ikaw man ay naging kalaban sa pulitika o naging kakampi, ang importante ay manaig ang ebidensya. Ang importante ay manaig kung ano ang tama, iyan ang gagawin kong prinsipyo sa pagdinig dito,” she said. 

The Senate President said the rules of impeachment are already being finalized and will be available next week.

“Pina-finalize na namin yung Senate impeachment rules to be submitted to the senators for approval,” he said.

Sereno's camp yesterday said the chief magistrate is set to go on a "wellness leave" starting Thursday, March 1, to prepare for the possible impeachment trial.

Sources at the Supreme Court, however, said the high court en banc forced the top magistrate to go on indefinite leave as she faced impeachment proceedings.