FORMER Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile and Tranquilino Salvador 3rd are among those eyed by the House of Representatives to serve as its private prosecutors when the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno begins in the Senate.
Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, chairman of the House justice committee, said on radio that Enrile, Salvador, and Biboy Malaya were being considered to aid the House prosecution team that would file the articles of impeachment before the Senate, which will sit as an impeachment court.
Umali’s announcement came after his committee determined that there was probable cause to impeach Sereno for corruption and other high crimes, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution. The committee voted of 38-2 against Sereno on Friday after 15 hearings.
The committee ruling will be presented this week to the plenary, which will vote on whether to impeach Sereno or not.
Enrile, who had been detained for a P172-million plunder charge, was ordered released by the Supreme Court in August 2015 on humanitarian grounds.
Salvador served as spokesman of the late Renato Corona, the first chief justice to be impeached and convicted by the Senate impeachment court, with Enrile as presiding officer.
As Salvador defended Corona, Enrile voted for the conviction of the then chief justice for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution, saying that Corona deliberately excluded substantial assets from his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), which amounted to hundreds of millions of pesos.
“Former senator Enrile could also serve as our adviser because, you know, being the first and presiding judge of the Senate impeachment court [during the Corona trial], especially that this is an issue of SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth). He was one of those who decided the Corona case, and he will be a big help for the prosecution team,” Umali said.
The impeachment proceedings in the House showed that Sereno did not submit her SALNs from 1986 to 2006, when she was a UP law professor, to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which screens judiciary appointees.
Despite Sereno’s failure to submit all her SALNs, she was still included by the JBC in its shortlist, which was sent to then president Benigno Aquino 3rd for his final decision.
Aquino appointed Sereno chief justice in August 2012, the youngest in the history of the high court.
Sereno had said she would address the issue of her SALNs in the Senate impeachment trial.