Drilon, Escudero warn of constitutional crisis amid Sereno impeachment case Featured

Two senators have warned of a constitutional crisis on the issue of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s continued refusal to attend the impeachment proceedings against her at the House of Representatives.

This following Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali’s reported statement that the House committee on justice, which he chairs, might  be compelled to issue a  subpoena, and subsequently, a warrant of arrest if Sereno refuses to testify before the panel.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon pointed out that the power of Congress to issue a subpoena and order the detention of a witness who refuses to obey the subpoena is only available in investigations in aid of legislation.

“It is not available in an impeachment proceeding,” Drilon said in a text message to reporters. “In effect, a subpoena will compel Sereno in an impeachment complaint to testify against herself.”

“I therefore urge Cong. Umali to exercise extreme caution in using the coercive powers of Congress to issue a subpoena against Sereno as there is no basis and will provoke a needless constitutional crisis,” the minority leader added.

Senator Francis Escudero also cautioned that, “It may result in a constitutional crisis if the CJ refuses to attend.”

In a text message, Escudero likewise explained: “But if I remember correctly, the attendance/participation of the respondent in an impeachment case, or in any case for that matter, cannot be compelled to give evidence vs himself/herself even if he/she attends.”

Umali, in a radio   interview over the weekend, said the committee might have to issue a subpoena to the Chief Justice is there’s really a need for her to testify on the complaint against her.

“Kung hindi sinunod, ma-oobliga na tayo na mag-isyu ng warrant,” the lawmaker was quoted in the report as saying.       /kga

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