Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon warned of a serious constitutional crisis if the House Committee on Justice proceeds with its plan to issue an arrest order to compel Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to attend the impeachment complaint hearing against her.
"I urge Rep. Reynaldo 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," Drilon said.
"The House Committee on Justice cannot force Sereno to attend and testify in an impeachment hearing against her. It cannot be done without triggering a constitutional crisis," he said.
He stressed: "The power of the House of Representatives to issue a subppoena, motu prioprio, cannot be used during the investigation of an impeachment complaint."
He explained that an impeachment hearing is different from investigations in aid of legislation where Congress is allowed to issue a subpoena and order the detention of a witness.
Drilon explained that "requiring her to testify against herself would place her under the strongest temptation to commit perjury, and subject her to an extortion of confessions by duress."
This, Drilon added, will violate Sereno's constitutional rights and the principles of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.
"Since the primary purpose of the request to subpoena the Chief Justice is to require her to testify for the prosecution in relation to the Articles of Impeachment filed against heart, this runs afoul of her constitutional right against self-incrimination. Section 17, Article III of the Constitution states that 'No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself,'" Drilon warned.
Source: Senate of the Philippines