Duterte as prosecutor in Sereno impeachment 'pure nonsense': Panelo
Posted: 2017-Oct-10 20.00.01 UTC+0800
MANILA — Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Monday said the proposal to make President Rodrigo Duterte a special prosecutor in the impeachment of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is "pure nonsense" as such proposal is unconstitutional.
"The proposal to make the President act as Special Prosecutor in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Sereno is pure nonsense. The President is constitutionally prohibited to hold any other office during his tenure," Panelo said in a statement.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno, proposed that the President become part of the panel that would prosecute the Chief Justice.
He argued that there is no law barring Duterte from participating in an impeachment proceeding.
But Panelo said that "even assuming that there is no prohibition, such position diminishes the office of the Presidency and departs from his functions and duties as mandated by the Constitution."
He said that knowing the President's rich experience as a public prosecutor, Gadon may have made the proposal to ensure the success of his impeachment complaint against Sereno.
"In his zeal to pursue his impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice, he overlooked the fact that the preposition is constitutionally challenged by virtue of an express provision prohibiting the President from holding another position during his tenure of office," Panelo said.
Furthermore, the President's chief legal counsel said Duterte respects the independence of the two co-equal branches of the government and would not interfere with their constitutional functions.
"The House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate all kinds of impeachment hence its members are tasked to prosecute the impeachable officers in impeachment trial in the Senate. As he has repeatedly said he respects the independence of the two co-equal branches of the government and he will never interfere with their constitutional functions. In his prime task of executing all the laws of the land and preserving and defending the Constitution he shall make sure that such independence is upheld," Panelo said.
The House of Representatives Committee on Justice has declared that the complaint against Sereno has sufficient grounds to proceed.
A third of the 293 House members is required to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, whose members will serve as trial judges.
Section 15 of the House's Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Proceedings states that the House shall serve as the sole prosecutor in an impeachment trial. (PNA)