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Lagman: Alvarez, Fariñas commit ‘treason’ vs House for backing SC ouster of Sereno

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By Xave Gregorio

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman ​has ​accused House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rudolfo Fariñas of committing “treason” against the House of Representatives for siding with the Supreme Court (SC) ruling in favor of the quo warranto petition against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

“The leadership of the House of Representatives has committed ‘treason’ against the chamber when it abandoned and forfeited the constitutional power of the House to initiate impeachment proceedings in the wake of the power grab by eight justices of the [SC] who removed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by granting an irregular and improvident quo warranto petition,” Lagman said Friday (May 25) in a statement.

“The House leaders, particularly Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, have unilaterally deferred to the ‘finality’ of the 8-6 High Court decision unseating the Chief Magistrate without following the constitutionally mandated impeachment process,” he continued.

Alvarez and Fariñas have long supported the quo warranto petition, arguing that it is a separate remedy from impeachment and only deals with the qualifications of a government official prior to sitting in office.

Fariñas, the House rules committee chair, has also sat on the articles of impeachment and has not yet calendared it for deliberations and voting in plenary, despite it having been submitted by the House justice committee over a month ago.

In an interview with House reporters upon the resumption of sessions in Congress from its Lenten break, Fariñas cited House impeachment rules which allow the articles of impeachment to go uncalendared up to 10 session days.

Congress resumed with eight session days and now has only three session days adjourning sine die, which means that the articles of impeachment could be sent to plenary, at the latest, on July 24 – the 10th session day since the articles were submitted to the rules committee.

By then, Fariñas expects that the SC has ruled on the petition with finality.

The May 11 SC decision was met with mixed reactions from legislators, especially in the Senate, whose members felt that the High Court weakened the exclusive power of Congress to impeach officials.

This has also prompted members of the opposition Magnificent 7 bloc in the House, which includes Lagman, to threaten to file impeachment complaints against the eight justices who favored Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition against Sereno.

“The projected impeachment complaints to be filed by the Magnificent 7 opposition bloc will not only hold accountable the eight grievously errant Justices for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust, but will also reclaim for the House its impeachment power,” Lagman said.