Umali: Quo warranto, impeach case vs Sereno ‘independent actions’
House justice committee chair Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali has brushed off concerns that the quo warranto petition filed to nullify Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s appointment would weaken the Congress’ power to impeach high-ranking officials.
Umali said the impeachment proceedings and the quo warranto case against Sereno are “independent actions based on different grounds,” and are “separate modes of removing her” from office.
Even though the lawmaker said both actions may proceed simultaneously, if the Supreme Court (SC) rules to disqualify the top magistrate ahead of the outcome of the impeachment trial, then the impeachment proceedings would be “deemed closed,” and “moot and academic.”
Umali issued the statement following concerns from some lawmakers that allowing the High Court to oust Sereno may emasculate the power of Congress to unseat impeachable officials.
The lawmaker is also not inclined to think that the quo warranto case filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) due to Sereno’s alleged failure to completely disclose her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), was unconstitutional.
“Hindi naman, kasi iba ‘yung jurisdiction ng quo warranto (Not really, because the quo warranto has a different jurisdiction), it presumes that the appointed official was not qualified to be appointed. So kung issue ang qualification, hindi ito covered ng impeachment (So if the issue is qualification, this isn’t covered by impeachment),” he said.
When asked if the JBC could be held accountable for approving Sereno’s appointment even without fully satisfying the requirements, Umali answered in the affirmative.
“Yes (they approved the appointment). But they can err. And that’s what happened, they erred,” he said.
Faced with various complaints, Sereno should opt to do the “honorable” decision to resign, according to Umali.
“Wala na siya tatakbuhan eh, nung nag-vote nga justices that she take a leave of absence, wala na siya tatakbuhan eh. Kaya nga ‘di ko naiintindihan where the CJ is coming from fighting it out,” he said.
(She can’t run anywhere else, when the justices voted that she take a leave of absence, she couldn’t run from it. That’s why I don’t understand where CJ is coming from fighting it out.)
“This is already the end of the road for her. She’s just making it difficult for the country,” he added.
The House justice committee is set to vote on Thursday if the 27 grounds of the impeachment complaint against Sereno have probable cause.
Next week, Umali said they would craft the articles of impeachment and vote on the final committee report to be presented before the House plenary.
The articles of impeachment would later be transmitted to Senate, which would sit as an impeachment tribunal. /je