A political analyst on Thursday cast doubts on the determination of the House of Representatives to push through with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s impeachment trial, because of the uncertainty that she would be convicted by the Senate.
Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said the impeachment process might be moving at the House of Representatives, but the intention was not to bring the case to a Senate impeachment trial, but to force Sereno to resign.
“That has always been the strategy, they want Sereno to resign because they (House members) are not sure what will happen in the Senate. I don’t think they have the votes,” Casiple said in an interview.
“They (House members) went through the motions but they are not saying that they will file it. Now if the process of the filing [is followed]it will be in August which is already the third and final session of this Congress,” he noted.
Casiple said he believed there was no strong basis to impeach the chief justice.
The political analyst also noted that apart from impeachment, the petition for quo warranto questioning Sereno’s qualifications, filed this week by the Office of the Solicitor General before the Supreme Court, was also part of efforts to pressure the chief justice to resign.
“In my view they are not preparing for an impeachment. They are trying to bring the situation to a force resignation, even the quo warranto is being used to pressure the chief justice,” he said.
Casiple said he did not see President Rodrigo Duterte’s hand in the impeachment process, noting that the Chief Executive had said he was not interested in kicking out Sereno, the youngest to be appointed chief justice, at age 52.
Asked why lawmakers and other allies of the President wanted to remove Sereno, Casiple said one of the reasons was to cut short her term, which would last until 2030 or when she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Those who want Sereno out also think she was appointed to the high court to be a “stay behind force” of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, Casiple said.
‘Trial will be fair and non-partisan’
Reacting to the House justice panel vote, Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan said the public must assume that the impeachment process “would be fair and non partisan to regain the strength of damaged our institutions.”
“We should trust the system and process until proven otherwise,” Honasan said in a text message.
Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th said the Senate was “ready to serve as an honest and impartial judge.”
“It is clear in the Constitution and it is clear to us that the Chief Justice can only be removed through an impeachment,” he said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson was tight-lipped. “Since it is almost inevitable that I will sit as an impeachment court judge, I would rather not comment on any matter pertaining to the chief justice’s impeachment,” he said.
WITH BERNADETTE S. TAMAYO