Reso insists Senate’s right to hold Sereno impeach trial

Senator Franklin Drilon.

SENATE Minority leader Franklin M. Drilon launched a last ditch effort to regain the Senate’s right to conduct the impeachment trial of ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by getting colleagues to sign up on a resolution urging the Supreme Court (SC) to review its decision to nullify her appointment to the SC post.

The still unnumbered resolution being passed around for signing by other senators is also Drilon’s way to regain the Senate’s lost pride after the Office of the Solicitor General won the quo warranto case against Sereno that led to her ouster on Friday aborting the impeachment trial.

The resolution states that the Senate has the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment and that the SC’s decision to grant the quo warranto petition of Solicitor General Jose Calida sets a dangerous precedent of transgressing the exclusive powers of the legislative branch.

“The decision of the Supreme Court to allow an extra-Constitutional means to remove a Supreme Court justice blatantly usurps the constitutional power of the Senate to remove an impeachable official from office,” the resolution read.

However, Drilon has an inkling that the resolution would be a long shot in correcting what he thinks was a violation of the Constitution and insult on Congress, the Senate in particular, unless the Lower House belatedly forwards the impeachment complaint anyway.

“If the House of Representatives sends the impeachment complaint, then the positions of the House, then, is Sereno is not yet removed from office. When it gets here, we’ll decide as a court whether or not the position of the House is correct. But that is a very theoretical question. I think what will happen is the House will archive the impeachment complaint,” Drilon said in an interview on Tuesday.

Drilon is also looking at another possibility of bringing life to the impeachment process for Sereno.

“I think the leadership of the House of Representatives has said that they will not elevate it here. But the question is, can we convene the impeachment court without the complaint being elevated to us?” said Drilon.

If ever that chance prospers, Drilon shrugged off fears of a constitutional crisis.

“I cannot imagine what a constitutional crisis is unless somebody describes it to me,” he said.

On Friday, Drilon expressed his behement disagreement to the SC’s vote in favor of the quo warranto.

“With all due respect, I totally disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court. A quo warranto proceeding is not the proper, legal, and constitutional way to remove an erring impeachable officer. The Constitution is clear that the only remedy on erring constitutional officers like the Chief Justice is a conviction in an impeachment proceeding,” said Drilon.

Drilon added, “The Constitution has vested such power only in the hands of Congress. With this decision however, the power to remove an impeachable officer including Supreme Court justices, heads of constitutional offices and even the President is, by implication and in effect, made available to the Solicitor General by way of a quo warranto petition.

“Hence, this decision makes the Solicitor General the most powerful official in the bureaucracy, even more powerful than both the House of Representatives and the Senate insofar as the removal of impeachable officers is concerned.”