Umali hits Senators decrying constitutional crisis in Sereno impeach case
House justice committee chairman Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali chided senators for making “unfounded” comments on the impeachment hearings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, maintaining that the panel is not violating the constitutional provisions on impeachment proceedings.
“I was reading the papers this morning and on the front pages of Inquirer are statements coming from our counterparts in the Senate. Parang naiinip na sila dito o gusto na nila sumali dito,” Umali said in his opening statement at the resumption of the committee hearing on Sereno’s impeachment case on Tuesday.
“You will have your time, senator-judges, if and when these cases (are) filed in the Senate,” Umali said.
Umali was apparently referring to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Francis Escudero, who warned of a “constitutional crisis” if the House of Representatives would insist on issuing a subpoena or order the arrest of Sereno in an impeachment hearing.
But Umali cited a provision under Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution or accountability of public officers, which, he said, gives “exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment” to the House of Representatives.
“So this exclusive power is the power from which we withdraw our power to issue compulsory processes, including subpoena and the power to issue a warrant, if at all,” Umali said.
Umali stressed that when he floated the idea of issuing a subpoena against Sereno, he was only answering on a hypothetical question from the media.
Umali then said that the critics should instead contribute to a better understanding to the impeachment processes “rather than obfuscating it and creating an atmosphere of disrespect, or perhaps questioning the proceeding.”
“Sana maintindihan nating lahat para ‘wag tayong magsasalita nang hindi natin alam ‘yung pinanggagalingan ng sinasabi natin para di po magulo ang proceeding namin dito, para hindi kami batikusin ng media coming from walang basehan na statements from our colleagues in government,” Umali added. /kga
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