Where the 23 senators stand on Supreme Court’s ousting of Sereno

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Everyone has had a say in the Sereno ouster. (Artwork by Ishani Sharma)

It’s final. The Supreme Court has junked the motion for reconsideration filed by the camp of ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno assailing the granted quo warranto petition that removed Sereno from her post.

The decision from the high tribunal came amid opposition from a number of senators to to the case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida in March 2018.

Despite at least 14 senators supporting the resolution, prospects are dimmed for those hoping a change in the current course of events. Here is how the 23 members of the upper house stand on the matter.

Vicente Sotto III

The new Senate president earlier spoke of “not wanting to interfere with the judiciary” in a conversation with the media on the decision. After the denial of the motion of reconsideration, Sotto said that the motion’s denial meant that a Senate resolution would be moot, the Manila Bulletin reported.

Aquilino Pimentel III

Sotto’s predecessor has been among the most vocal critics of the decision. Even before the release of the original decision, Pimentel, the 1990 bar topnotcher, had warned of a potential constitutional crisis should the quo warranto petition be granted. The former Senate president has argued for a strict construction of the rule on impeachment of appointed officials in the constitution.

Almost immediately after declaring his position, Pimentel gave way to Sotto, who assumed the top Senate post.

Franklin Drilon

The minority floor leader was among those critical of the decision. Even for administration critic Drilon, he sees no likelihood that the Senate would still push for a resolution against the quo warranto, according to GMA News.

Panfilo Lacson

Lacson argued for respecting the high court’s decision. He has butt heads with his colleague Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, one of the decision’s biggest critics.

Kiko Pangilinan

In his sponsorship speech for the resolution, Pangilinan said the 1987 Constitution clearly states that members of the Supreme Court “may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution.”

Panglinan was optimistic about a decision favorable for the Sereno camp prior to the denial of the MR. In a statement after the May 11 decision, he criticized the high court and discussed how a shifting position of one of the magistrates could have saved Sereno.

JV Ejercito

In a text sent to ABS-CBN news, Ejercito maintained his view that the congress had the exclusive authority to impeach and try officials. However, Ejercito said that he respects the decision and added that he hopes the next chief justice could restore the public’s faith in the judiciary following the polarizing debate on the Sereno ouster.

He also urged incoming magistrates to reconsider the divisive quo warranto decision.

Risa Hontiveros

Hontiveros, an ally of the Liberal Party, urged colleagues in the upper house to support the resolution against the quo warranto, calling on them to “cross party lines and unite in defending the integrity of the Senate.”

Paolo Benigno Aquino IV

A Liberal Party stalward, Aquino joined other senators to support the resolution. He uploaded a copy of the resolution on his personal website and called for the public’s support.

Joel Villanueva

In a tweet after the original decision, Villanueva argued that the only means of removing a chief justice was through impeachment.

“From the very beginning, I have stressed my position that the appropriate process to discuss the removal of CJ Sereno is through an impeachment process. Clearly, according to the Constitution, the Senate has the sole responsibility in exacting accountability to judicial appointees or impeachable officers,” Villanueva said.

Ralph Recto 

The Senate President Pro Tempore was a critic of the quo warranto petition even before it was granted. Despite being a member of the majority bloc, he was part of the list of senators backing the resolution against the petition.

Nancy Binay

Though not among those vocal in the debates the followed the ouster, Binay in an interview with ANC a week after the release of the original decision mentioned the pending MR and respect of the judiciary as a co-equal branch to be among her reasons for not supporting the senate resolution.

Antonio Trillanes IV

Trillanes, along with fellow administration critic Leila de Lima were among those who appealed the May 11 decision by the Supreme Court. Possibly the Senate’s most vocal administration critic, Trillanes in a Facebook post following the denial of the MR accused President Rodrigo Duterte of “destroying the Supreme Court.”

Leila de Lima

One of those who appealed the May 11 decision, De Lima, known to be vocal on issues in the public sphere despite her detainment, has yet to issue a statement as of this writing. She is among those who supported the resolution.

Juan Miguel Zubiri

The Senate Majority Floor leader was not among those who supported the resolution against the quo warranto proceeding.

Richard Gordon

Gordon, a consistent administration senator, was not among those who supported the resolution. In an interview with ANC in March 2018, he said that the appointment of Sereno was a “mistake.”

Manny Pacquiao

The boxing senator likewise decided to respect the Supreme Court’s decision. Some detractors have ridiculed him for the reasons he gave during an interview with CNN Philippines.

Cynthia Villar

Villar during an appearance in Leyte defended the Supreme Court and argued that it had the authority to grant the Calida petition, the Inquirer reported.

Sherwin Gatchalian

Gatchalian, a known administration supporter, was among the surprise critics of the quo warranto. In a statement to ABS-CBN News released after the May 11 decision, he called the petition a “circumvention of the crystal-clear constitutional mandate of Congress.”

Francis Escudero

Chiz Escudero was among those supporting the resolution. Shortly before the release of the May 11 decision, Escudero questioned why the Coalition for Justice, a group supporting Sereno, brought its concerns to the Senate instead of the Supreme Court on account of the lack of an impeachment case before the congress.

Loren Legarda

The most recent addition to the supporters of the resolution, Legarda prior to her inclusion in the most recent list of supporters had not been vocal about her stance on the issue.

Sonny Angara

According to a report by CNN Philippines shortly before the release of the original decision, Angara said that granting the quo warranto petition would be an “injustice” to Sereno. In statements to the media after the release of the original decision, he accepted the decision but said that its effect could be felt by later generations. He is among the senators who supported the Senate resolution.

Gregorio Honasan

Honasan opted not to support the resolution. At a press conference after the May 11 decision, Honasan said that he was “not inclined to pit the Senate against the judiciary.” He qualified that he “was not taking sides.”

Grace Poe

Poe is among those supporting the resolution calling for an impeachment trial instead. Sereno was known as one of Poe’s supporters in the high court during the hearings on the latter’s eligibility to run for office.

Alexander Poblador, lead counsel for Sereno, was also the lead counsel for Poe during the latter’s disqualification case in 2016.