MANILA - A spokesperson for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday said the top magistrate is "very eager" to appear before the Senate impeachment trial after President Rodrigo Duterte's appeal to Congress to fast track the proceedings.
The President's request to the lawmakers was "perfectly consistent" with Sereno plea for a trial, said lawyer Carlo Cruz.
"She’s excited, she’s longing to be, very eager to appear before the Senate because this would finally be her chance to vindicate herself after so many months of constant and orchestrated vilification against her," Cruz told ANC's Headstart.
After Sereno challenged him to disprove involvement in the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, Duterte proclaimed himself the Chief Justice's "enemy" and requested Congress to "fast track" Sereno's impeachment because she is "bad for the Philippines."
Duterte also said he would egg the Solicitor General to "do his best" in the quo warranto suit.
Calida had asked the Supreme Court to invalidate Sereno's appointment, citing her supposed failure to submit her statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth to the Judicial and Bar Council when they were screening applicants for the Chief Justice post in 2012.
The House of Representatives deferred voting on the articles of impeachment in the plenary until after the Supreme Court decides on the petition.
Cruz said he was concerned with interpreting Duterte's words to Congress as an "order" as he believes the President was merely asking the lawmakers to do as he said and there should be "no encroachment of upon any of the constitutional prerogatives of any of these 3 branches of government."
He said it was perfectly normal for the President to egg his solicitor general, who reports to him, but it would be ideal if he would instruct the country's top lawyer to drop the petition instead.
"It would be nice if the President could join the Chief Justice, come on, just order your solicitor general, withdraw this quo warranto petition and let’s go to the Senate," he said.
"After all, you’re familiar with the basic view maintained by many lawyers that the only way to remove a siting chief justice would be through impeachment. As the Chief Justice repeatedly pronounced, you started it; why don’t you want to finish it?" he added.