MALACAñANG yesterday disputed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s recent remarks on the ouster move against her, insisting that her impeachment is a constitutional process and can never be a threat to democracy.
“… I do not see how a constitutional process, ratified by the Filipinos when they ratified the ’87 Constitution could constitute a threat to democracy. She is mistaken there,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Roque further said that the process should be allowed to continue, stressing that the “legislature is a separate branch of government.”
“They have exclusive and original jurisdiction to determine probable cause on impeachment complaints. We trust Congress will do its job,” Roque said.
Earlier, Sereno warned that an attempt by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte to impeach her could threaten the judiciary and the country’s democracy.
Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez yesterday allayed concerns of a possible constitutional crisis if the Chief Justice decides to question the impeachment case against her before the Supreme Court which she heads.
In an ambush interview at the New World Hotel in Manila, Alvarez pointed out that the Constitution is clear on its mandate giving the House of Representatives exclusive jurisdiction to accept and to hear cases of impeachment.
“Ang payo ko naman siguro mag-MCLE (Mandatory Continuing Legal Education) muna ‘yung mga abodado. Kasi ho malinaw sa Constitution natin, sa Saligang Batas na exclusive ang jurisdiction ng House of Representatives to hear and to accept itong mga impeachment cases,” said Alvarez.
Earlier, the camp of Sereno said they are considering asking the SC to stop the proceedings of the House committee on justice on the impeachment case against her. Alvarez is confident that majority of the justices of the SC will uphold the letter of the Constitution which vests in Congress the power to impeach erring officials of the Executive Department and the Judiciary.
In a related development, Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting called on all parties, including Alvarez, Sereno and even the media to be more sober in dealing with the impeachment process as he sought greater respect for the constitutional institutions.
Tambunting said it appears that highly charged emotions are getting in the way of understanding the core issues involved in this matter.
“I am not a lawyer, but it appears to me that there is a huge gap in the way that the issues surrounding the impeachment are being reported and discussed, at the expense of our Constitutional institutions,” said Tambunting.Tambunting also issued a warning that a heated and emotional discussion of these issues, may result in the weakening of the country’s constitutional institutions.
“We must always act in a way that protects and promotes not just our personal rights. More importantly, our actions must be consistent with the respect and protection that our Constitutional institutions, such as impeachment and separation of powers,” said Alvarez.
With Ryan Ponce Pacpaco