MANILA - (UPDATE) Malacañang on Friday said it finds no merit in the impeachment complaint filed by lawmakers against seven Supreme Court justices who ousted Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice via a quo warranto proceeding.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace expects the House of Representatives’ justice committee to junk the impeachment complaints.
“Whether be it ‘no on form or substance nakita po natin na nasa hurisdiksyon ng Korte Suprema iyong desisyon nila kay dating Chief Justice Sereno,” Roque told radio dzRH.
(Whether be it in form or substance, we have seen that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over former Chief Justice Sereno.)
“Ang sabi po ng Saligang Batas, merong hurisdiksyon ang Korte Suprema pagdating sa mga petisyon para sa quo warranto. So, hindi ko po maintindihan kung bakit naging impeachable offense iyan.”
(The Constitution states that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over quo warranto petitions. So I don’t understand why this is an impeachable offense.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the complainants, alleged that the magistrates who voted for Sereno's removal committed culpable violation of the constitution and betrayal of public trust.
Impeachable officers like Sereno can only be removed through impeachment proceedings before Congress, he reasoned in an ANC interview.
Impeachment complaints were lodged against Supreme Court Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., and Alexander Gesmundo.
De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, and Reyes are 4 of the 5 nominees to become the next chief justice. The other candidate is a regional trial court judge from President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown Davao City.
Lagman said the Judicial and Bar Council should reopen the application for chief justice as 4 of the 5 nominees may be disqualified after an impeachment complaint was lodged against them.
Despite the impeachment complaints, the JBC shortlisted De Castro, Peralta and Bersamin.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the JBC, however said the filing of impeachment complaints against the magistrates will not have any effect on their nomination for the chief justice position because the charges have not matured into an impeachment case.
BUSINESS AS USUAL IN THE HOUSE
Meanwhile, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she will assure that the impeachment complaints against the magistrates of the top court would not disturb the legislative agenda of the House.
Arroyo said she plans to transmit the complaints to the House Rules Committee by Friday afternoon so that it could be discussed on Tuesday.
"The most important thing is to expedite it one way or another so that it does not really disturb the legislative agenda," she told reporters.
An impeachment complaint by a member of the House or by any citizen, upon a resolution of endorsement by any lawmaker, shall be filed with the office of the Secretary-General and immediately referred to the Speaker.
The Speaker shall have it included in the order of business within 10 session days from receipt. It shall then be referred to the Committee on Justice within 3 session days.
-with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News