Sotto: Senate resolution opposing Sereno ouster up for debates

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2018 01:22 PM

MANILA - The Senate resolution urging the Supreme Court to review its decision to oust Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice may soon be up for plenary debates, the newly installed Senate leader said Thursday. 

"If the authors would like to take it up next week, I’m sure Senator (Juan Miguel) Zubiri would be more than willing to place it in the agenda," said Senate President Vicente Sotto III, referring to the new Senate Majority Leader. 

Fourteen senators, including those from the majority and the minority, signed Senate Resolution No. 738, which expressed the "sense of the Senate of the Philippines to uphold the Constitution on the matter of removing a Chief Justice from office."

Through the resolution, the lawmakers "respectfully urge the Supreme Court to review its decision to nullify the appointment" of Sereno as chief magistrate. 

Sotto, who did not sign the document, said votes in the plenary are more important than signatures in the resolution.

"'Pag hindi nagbago ang mga isip nila, madali nang i-adopt 'yun 'pag binotohan 'yun. But there will be debates on the matter and perhaps 'yung iba mae-enlighten at sumama, or 'yung iba naman, ma-enlighten at humiwalay," he said.

(If they (those who signed) do not change their minds, that would easily be adopted during the vote. But there will be debates on the matter and perhaps some may be enlightened and join (those who signed), or some may be enlightened and take a separate stand.)

He also asserted that the Senate has "nothing to do" with the impeachment complaint against Sereno and could not take action on it as it remains pending at the House of Representatives. 

"We have nothing to do with it. There’s nothing that has reached the Senate so if there are no articles of impeachment that are transmitted to us, then there is nothing that we can do about it, we cannot tackle anything," he told reporters.

Sotto, who took the Senate's helm after Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III stepped down, said he has had no discussion about the transmission of the articles of impeachment with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Pimentel, before stepping down, was quoted as saying the impeachment trial of Sereno may still proceed if majority of senators reject the high court decision. 

Sereno was supposed to be chief justice until 2030 when she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70, but her colleagues earlier this month invalidated her appointment to the post.

Earlier, House Justice Committee chair Reynaldo Umali said the chamber will declare the impeachment complaint moot and academic once the high court ruling to oust Sereno becomes final.