What the impeachment complaint against SC justices will have to hurdle

August 24, 2018 - 3:15 PM
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Opposition lawmakers Teddy Baguilat Jr., Gary Alejano and Edcel Lagman present their impeach complaint against seven Supreme Court associate justices. (The Star/Boy Santos)

Four opposition lawmakers have filed an impeachment complaint against the seven sitting Supreme Court associate justices who voted to grant the quo warranto petition against former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The complaint comes as a surprise as majority of the lower house is allied with the same administration that called for Sereno’s ouster.

Reps. Edcel Lagman (Albay), Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list), Teddy Baguilat Jr. (Ifugao) and Tom Villarin (Akbayan party-list) submitted impeachment complaints against associate justices Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo for alleged committed culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust by granting the quo warranto petition.

Former associate justice and now Ombudsman Samuel Martires, who also voted in favor of the quo warranto, was not included in the complaint.

Alejano in a statement on social media said that while they were aware that their complaint will have to go through the administration-aligned supermajority that approved the articles of impeachment against Sereno, the lawmakers recognized it was their responsibility to seek justice.

“The filing of the impeachment complaint is the proper and legal venue to seek accountability on their actions,” he said.

Critics of the 8-6 decision that ousted Sereno in May 2018 see the move as the result of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Under Article XI, Sec.3 of the 1987 Constitution, the complaint by the opposition lawmakers will go through the committee on justice, who will then transmit a resolution either approving or rejecting the complaint.

A vote of one-third of all members of the lower house is needed to either affirm or override the resolution.

House speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday morning said that she wanted the processing of the impeachment complaints to be expedited.

The complaint filed by the opposition lawmakers will now be facing a House of Representatives whose majority of members is still aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Allies of the president in the lower house have been crucial in previous impeachment scenarios.

The impeachment of Sereno’s late predecessor Renato Corona was facilitated by congressional allies of former president Benigno Aquino III.