Majority of senators sign resolution challenging Sereno ouster


Posted at May 17 2018 01:33 PM | Updated as of May 17 2018 03:52 PM

Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno addresses supporters protesting outside the Supreme Court in Manila on May 11, 2018, when the high court handed down its ruling removing her from the post. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A majority of senators have signed a resolution opposing the Supreme Court's decision to oust Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said 14 of the 23-man Senate have signed the resolution. Those who have signed included members of both the Senate majority and minority blocs. 

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Senators who have signed as of Thursday were Pangilinan, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Antonio Trillanes IV, Risa Hontiveros, Bam Aquino, and Leila de Lima, all from the minority bloc, and majority Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Sonny Angara, Grace Poe, Francis Escudero, Joel Villanueva, Ralph Recto, Loren Legarda, and Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III.

The resolution was drafted after the Supreme Court granted Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petition against Sereno last week, invalidating her 2012 appointment as chief justice.

In its ruling, the high court said its grant of a quo warranto plea to oust Sereno seeks to ensure that “only qualified individuals” hold public office. It said impeachment was not the sole means to remove impeachable officials. 

Sereno was supposed to remain chief magistrate until her retirement at age 70 in 2030.

Her removal from office marks the first time in Philippine history that a chief justice was ousted through a quo warranto plea.

Speaking to ANC on Thursday, Aquino said lawmakers hope that the resolution could be used by Sereno's camp when she appeals her ouster.

"We hope this resolution can form part of information for that MR (motion for reconsideration) na malinaw sa amin dito sa senado na mali 'yung ginawa ng Supreme Court (that it's clear for us here in the Senate that what the Supreme Court did was wrong)," he said.

"I think it's important that the Senate makes a stand on this issue. Marami na rin sa amin ang nagsasabi na unconstitutional itong ginawa ng Supreme Court (many of us have been saying that what the Supreme Court did was unconstitutional) and this is not just coming from the minority but across party lines," he added.

Sen. Nancy Binay, who did not sign the resolution, meanwhile said the Senate should respect the separation of powers between the legislative and judiciary. 

"They made a decision so let's just respect that separation of powers," she told ANC in an interview Thursday.

Malacañang has welcomed the senators' resolution.

"The senators are free to sign such a resolution," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

"The resolution forms part of their inherent legislative powers,” he said.

Pangilinan said the resolution is set to be filed later Thursday.

Sereno, who faced both a quo warranto plea at the high court and an impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives, had insisted she may only be removed by impeachment. 

Earlier, she said she should be given her day at the Senate impeachment court to state her case. 

-- with reports from Sherrie Ann Torres and Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News