Alvarez on Sereno ouster bid: House to avoid Corona impeachers’ gaffes
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno would undergo intense scrutiny by the House of Representatives to prevent a repeat of the impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona.
In a press briefing at the lower House, Alvarez said the two impeachment complaints against Sereno filed and duly endorsed by House members would pass through the House justice committee, even though these get the support of the lower House to hurdle the panel and proceed with the Senate impeachment court.
Under the 1987 Constitution, an impeachment complaint may hurdle the House justice committee and proceed to trial in the Senate impeachment court if it gets one-third support of all the members of the House.
“Alam mo, kung gusto lang namin na dumiretso yan sa impeachment court, kayang kaya, pwedeng gawin. Ayaw ko gawin. Gusto ko, dito pa lang, i-hearing muna natin para makita natin kung mayroong ebidensiya o wala,” Alvarez said.
(You know what, if we only want this to go directly to the impeachment court, we can do it. It is just I don’t want to do it. I want this to undergo hearing so we can see if it has sufficient evidence or not.)
Alvarez said he does not want to repeat the mistakes of the Corona impeachment trial, where he said House prosecutors struggled in presenting evidence against Corona.
In an impeachment trial, the Senate acts as the court while the lower House acts as prosecutors.
“Whether it can stand trial in an impeachment court, dahil mahirap yan. Kagaya ng ginawa kay Corona noong Chief Justice. Diretso sa impeachment court, tapos nangangapa sila ng ebidensiya. Unfair naman yun, hindi maganda,” Alvarez said.
(That would be hard. Just like what they did to Corona the chief justice. Directly it went to the impeachment court, then they struggled to get evidence. That would be unfair, it’s not nice.)
Faced with civil forfeiture proceedings and perjury cases before the Sandiganbayan following his impeachment, Corona was extinguished of his criminal cases following his death last year.
Alvarez said the House justice committee would also tackle at the same time the impeachment complaint endorsed and filed against Commission on Elections Chairperson Andres Bautista over allegations of ill-gotten wealth.
The House Speaker said he does not want the House prosecutors to look stupid in front of the Senate impeachment court.
“Kung pumirma sila lahat diyan at makuha ang minimum number of congressmen, aakyat agad yan sa impeachment court. Kami, we will be forced to prosecute na wala pa kaming hawak na matibay na ebidensiya. Ayaw ko namang magmukha kaming tanga sa impeachment court,” Alvarez said.
(If they sign and get the minimum number of congressmen, the case would be elevated to the impeachment court. For us, we will be forced to prosecute even without holding any strong evidence. I don’t want us to look like fools in the impeachment court.)
Alvarez denied forcing lawmakers to sign the impeachment complaints against Sereno, even asking the reporter for her source so that he could slap the lawmaker who made the baseless allegation.
“Sino nagsabi niyan? Dalhin mo sa harap ko, sampalin ko. Gumagawa sila ng kuwento na hindi totoo. I-harap mo sa akin yan,” Alvarez said.
(Who said that? Bring that person to me and I will slap that person. They are making up stories that are baseless. Bring that person to me.)
“Talagang sampalin ko siya sa harapan mo. Gago yan. Kung mag-imbento ka, yung totoo. Huwag naman yung hindi totoo, kung anu-ano lang sinasabi,” he added.
(I will actually slap that person in front of you. That fool. If you would invent, it should be real. Not based on make-believe.)
He also denied that the impeachment proceeding against Sereno would result in a “constitutional crisis,” with the two branches of government clashing with each other.
“Why constitutional crisis? …It’s a process provided for in the Constitution,” Alvarez said.
Two impeachment complaints were filed against Sereno, which gained the endorsement of 41 lawmakers.
Sereno faced impeachment complaints for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and corruption for purportedly bypassing the Supreme Court en banc in creating new offices, her “whimsical” and “excessive” purchase of the P5.1 million Toyota Land Cruiser, and her alleged failure to declare “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” allegedly amounting to $745,000, or P37 million.
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