Senator Panfilo Lacson on May 31, interpellates his colleague, Liberal Party President and Senator Francis Pangilinan during the presentation of the Senate resolution on “quo warranto.”
The former head of Philippine National Police (PNP) believed that the resolution filed by Pangilinan and signed by fourteen members of the Senate would interfere with the Supreme Court (SC).
“I don’t want to participate in something that would encroach on the authority of the SC… If we didn’t use this language, referring to an action taken by the SC, I would sign the resolution.” Lacson said while interpellating Pangilinan, who’s a lawyer.
In this case we are creating a constitutional crisis because SC acted within its own jurisdiction (and) here we are, interfering and trying to influence the SC to reverse its decision” he added.
Lacson didn’t believe that Pangilinan was correct for saying that the decision of the SC to oust former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno via quo warranto procedure is unconstitutional.
“Who interprets the Constitution, is it the Senate? … We cannot interpret the Constitution.” – Sen. Lacson, on which institution is mandated to interpret the law and the Constitution.
Pangilinan agreed that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the constitution, however, he insisted that the Senate can also interpret the law.
“While it is true that the final arbiter of the constitution [is the Supreme Court], as legislators, we are also called upon to interpret the constitution,” Pangilinan told Lacson.
In response, Lacson challenged Pangilinan to show a “provision” that the legislators can also interpret the constitution like the SC.
It is only the SC that can interpret the constitution. If you can show me a provision that the Senate or Congress can interpret the constitution, I will sign it.” Lacson said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also backed Pangilinan points, saying that the decision of the Supreme Court had prevented the Congress from exercising what the constitution mandated to them.
Lacson also pointed out that the keyword in the Art. XI, Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution is “may” arguing that the President, Vice President and the members of the Supreme Court can be ousted in another way than impeachment.
According to the law, “officials including the President, the Vice-President, and members of the Supreme Court MAY be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”
The exchange between Pangilinan and Lacson lasted for 30 minutes and only stopped after Senate President Tito Sotto moved to suspend the session.
At the end of the day, the Senate has failed to adopt the resolution which challenging the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed her disappointment after the resolution was not adopted by the senate.
“Buo ang loob ko na hindi kontra dun sa mga argumento na inihain nila ang mga laman at lalo na ang tono. At lalong magalang na tono ng reso. Kung kaya nga buo ang loob ng 14 na senador na pumirma dito,” she said.
You can watch the whole interpellation below: