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BBL, not Sereno impeachment, is Senate priority in May

The Senate will prioritize the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and not Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's expected impeachment trial when it resumes session in May, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said on Wednesday.

"I really doubt that the impeachment would be our priority when we resume on May 15. Perhaps the BBL would be the priority," Sotto said at a news forum in Manila.

The House Committee on Justice has found probable cause to impeach Sereno. It approved six articles of impeachment against the top magistrate.

If the articles of impeachment clear the House plenary, they would be transmitted to the Senate for trial, a proceeding the chief justice has expressed preference for over the removal bid she faces at the Supreme Court.

While the Senate could convene itself as an impeachment court, it would first have to deal with procedural matters, such as adopting rules, sending summonses, and directing parties to reply, Sotto said.

"The impeachment trial can only start perhaps the first week of August," he said. "There's no way we can start the trial in May."

Congress is on break between March 24 and May 13. It will then be in session for a few weeks before adjourning sine die from June 2 to July 22.  

In 2012, the Senate voted 20-3 to convict Sereno's predecessor, the late Renato Corona, over his alleged failure to fully disclose his wealth. Sereno is hounded by a similar allegation. —NB, GMA News