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Umali wants to stop impeachment proceedings against Sereno

House Committee on Justice chair Reynaldo Umali on Sunday said he would move to stop the impeachment proceedings against Maria Lourdes Sereno, after the Supreme Court in  last Friday's landmark ruling granted the quo warranto petition, invalidating her appointment as chief justice.

In an interview on Super Radyo dzBB on Sunday, Umali said he would discuss their next course of action with the House Committee on Rules chaired by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.

The justice panel has yet to vote on the articles of impeachment for transmittal to the Senate for trial.

Umali expressed fears that pushing for the transmittal of the impeachment complaint to the Senate could stoke a constitutional crisis.

"Ako, 'yan ang posisyon na ibibigay ko sa Rules Committee na tuldukan na natin ito. After all, mas makakasama pa kung pagbotohan at iakyat namin yan sa Senado dahil baka magkaroon pa ng constitutional crisis," he said.

Last Friday, the Supreme Court, voting 8-6, granted the quo warranto petition filed against Sereno questioning the validity of her appointment to her position.

The quo warranto proceeding was taking place at the SC while the House of Representatives was deliberating on the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno by lawyer Lorenzo "Larry" Gadon.

Umali said he feels "relieved" that panel members no longer need to prepare for the impeachment trial at the Senate after Sereno's ouster.

"I feel so relieved that we need not go through the protracted and rigorous process of Senate impeachment trial," he said. "Siyempre dahil napakaraming paghahanda ang gagawin namin."

"Dahil sa desisyon na ito, hindi ko na [ito] kailangang gawin at ako'y makaka-concentrate na ngayon doon sa regular legislative work ko," he added.

While the high court's ruling ousting Sereno is still subject to a motion for  reconsideration, Umali believes that more justices may vote to affirm last Friday's en banc decision.

"In all likelihood naman, yung walo naman hindi na mababago yan. Baka madagdagan pa yan, baka mapag-isip yung iba. Baka lalong dumami pa yung may botong in favor," he said.

Umali also took exception to the call of some senators to have the impeachment case be transmitted to them, saying that they themselves might defy the decision of the Supreme Court.

"Malamang sa malamang ide-defy nila [senators] yung Supreme Court on this ruling dahil feeling nila sila ang may jurisdiction so we might as well, huwag na nating dalhin noon para hindi na magkaroon ng constitutional crisis," he said.

Earlier, Fariñas said the House of Representatives will wait for the final ruling of the Supreme Court on the quo warranto petition before it makes its next move. —LBG, GMA News