SENATE Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd on Tuesday said that the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno may likely begin in July — that is if the House of Representatives would be able to approve the articles of impeachment and transmit them to the Senate by March.
Sotto, however, made it clear that it was just his projection given the limited session days left in the second regular session of 17th Congress.
Sotto said there were other submissions that needed to be made after the House transmits the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
And since Congress will be adjourning on March 24 for the Holy Week break, the Senate won’t be able to accomplish everything.
He said once the Senate has received the articles of impeachment, it would then give Sereno 15 days to respond to the charges. Another 15 days will also be given to the prosecutors to submit their rebuttal.
Given the process and the time needed to complete it, Sotto said there would be no time for the Senate to convene as an impeachment court and begin the trial proper before the June sine die adjournment.
“Don’t forget the break in June is a mandatory break… that is why my projection is July,” Sotto said.
Congress will resume its session after the Holy Week break on May 14 and adjourn sine die on June 1.
Sotto said that members of the House would have to participate in the trial as prosecutors.
The Senate majority leader also expressed doubts that the House lawmakers would work during the break.
Sotto was reacting to a statement of Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali, House Justice Committee chairman, about its possible submission of the articles of impeachment to the plenary next week. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA