MANILA - The impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will be "done" once Congress resumes sessions in May, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Monday.
President Rodrigo Duterte in a speech earlier in the day told Alvarez to "fast track" Sereno's impeachment because the top magistrate is "bad for the Philippines."
"Yes, it will be done once we resume sessions," Alvarez said when sought for comment on the chief executive's statement.
Alvarez and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas last month said the chamber would vote on Sereno's impeachment as they await the Supreme Court's decision on the quo warranto petition questioning the Chief Justice's qualifications.
The High Court is set to hold oral arguments on the quo warranto petition on April 10, Tuesday.
Hours before Duterte's speech, Sereno said the President should explain why Solicitor General Jose Calida, who reports to him, filed the petition before the Supreme Court.
Firing back, Duterte declared himself Sereno's "enemy" because she kept on insisting on his supposed interference in ouster efforts against her.
"Ikaw Sereno, sinabi ko na sa 'yo, hindi ako nakialam. If you are insisting, count me in. Count me in and I will egg Calida to do his best. Ako na mismo maglakad, magkalaban sa’yo," he said.
"I am putting you on notice na I am now your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court. I will see to it then after that I will request the Congress, go into the impeachment right away," he added.
He urged Congress to continue with the impeachment proceedings, which can go "simultaneously" with the Supreme Court's quo warranto hearings.
Opposition lawmaker Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin slammed Duterte's statement, saying it was "a day full of ironies when a President orders a co-equal branch in Congress to fast-track an impeachment against the Chief Justice whom he declares an enemy."
"The President is playing ‘god’ and arrogating unto himself powers over Congress and the Speaker meekly submitting to his whims. It clearly manifests his totalitarian nature and abhorrence to democratic values," he said in a statement.
Villarin said Sereno's rationale behind asking Duterte to explain why the Solicitor General filed the quo warranto was a "valid legal argument."
"As a lawyer, the President should know better than burst in a fit of rage. If he has no hand in filing the petition, the President should let Solgen Calida do the explaining in the proper forum. As the case is now heard by the Supreme Court en banc, such statement by the President is uncalled for as the matter is sub judice." - report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News