FOURTEEN senators — from both sides of the political fence — signed Resolution 738 expressing the sense of the Senate to uphold the Constitution on the matter of removing a Chief Justice from office, which is through impeachment.
They also urged the Supreme Court to review its decision granting the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida to nullify the appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice for her alleged failure to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) for several years.
Those who signed the resolution were Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, as well as Senators Loren Legarda, Francis Pangilinan, Francis Escudero, Antonio Trillanes 4th, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Paolo Benigno “Bam Aquino, Grace Poe, Leila de Lima, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, and Joel Villanueva.
Those who “failed” to sign it were Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto as well as Senators Richard Gordon, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Panfilo Lacson, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Nancy Binay, and Cynthia Villar.
The signatories said that the Supreme Court’s decision to grant the quo warranto petition “sets a dangerous precedent that transgresses the exclusive powers of the legislative branch to initiate, try, and decide all cases of impeachment.”
“A fundamental doctrine of a republican government is the separation of powers of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government; and while this doctrine does not guarantee absolute autonomy in the discharge of functions of each branch, the corollary doctrine of checks and balances ensures their co-equality,” they said.
They added, “The Senate recognized that the continued harmonious interdependence of these branches lies in the faithful adherence of each branch of government to the Constutition.”
Resolution 738 also states that Section 2, Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution states that members of the Supreme Court “may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and convicted of, culpable violation of the Constitution.”
“This is not about the Chief Justice and the accusations lodged against her. This is about safeguarding the integrity of our democratic institutions, diffusing the tension among the different branches of government and preventing a constitutional crisis,” Hontiveros said.
“Unfortunately, the SC’s decision severely upsets the constitutional balance of governance and weakened our system of checks and balances. Unless reversed, the decision will virtually render obsolete the country’s constitutional process of impeachment,” she said.
Aquino said the Supreme Court violated the Constitution with its decision to grant the quo warranto petition of the administration “which unlawfully ousted Chief Justice Sereno.”
“We now call on the public to support the Senate in restoring the checks and balances in government, enforcing the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution,” he added. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO