Espinoza: Dino formally blocks the BRT project

Elias L. Espinoza

PERHAPS, this would be the first in our country: an impeachable official removed from office through a petition for quo warranto filed before the Supreme Court instead of being impeached.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is facing an impeachment complaint in the House of Representatives for allegations ranging from failure to submit her Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) to buying a bullet-proof SUV. But while the investigation on the complaint by the House committee on justice was ongoing, Solicitor General Jose Callida filed a quo warranto petition against CJ Sereno before the Supreme Court, sparking suspicions evidence is not sufficient to impeach her.

It’s not remote Sereno would be removed from office through the quo warranto petition after President Duterte recently issued harsh statements against her. He also directed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to fast track the resolution of her impeachment case. Congress will resume session next month while the hearing on the quo warranto petition has started.

In our talk with Sen. Bam Aquino while he was waiting for his turn to speak as our guest in the general annual assembly of the Cebu Newspaper Workers Multipurpose Cooperative (Newscoop) on Saturday, he told me he doubts if the Articles of Impeachment against Sereno would reach the Senate.

Only the votes of eight out of the 14 SC justices are needed to oust Sereno. With five associate justices already testifying against Sereno before the House committee on justice, only three more associate justices are needed to get the majority vote.

So why go through the trouble of an impeachment trial when an impeachable official like Sereno could be removed through a petition for quo warranto? Congress might as well focus on important pieces of legislation and more importantly fast track charter change and set it for referendum in October as envisioned by Speaker Alvarez.

But what would be the implication if Sereno is removed through the petition for quo warranto instead of being impeached? For the President’s supporters that would be good. But for legal luminaries, it would be considered a travesty of justice.

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The die is cast. Michael Lloyd Dino, presidential assistant for the Visayas, wants the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) taken out as a government-funded project. The BRT is the brainchild of Cebu city Mayor Tomas Osmeña. and has remained on the planning table for several years.

According to a news report, Dino made representations with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) so the BRT project for Cebu City would be discarded because the appropriate solution to the city’s worsening traffic is the light rail train (LRT). But Mayor Tomas is not giving up. He said he will see to it that the BRT will be implemented. But when is it going to happen, Mayor Tom?

Dino is pushing for the establishment of the BRT under the Build, Build program of the government in collaboration with Chinese businessmen. It will stretch from Carcar City to Danao City. Dino bragged that work could start next year.

Meanwhile, if Mayor Tom has the support of the national leadership, he should start the operation of the BRT using the buses of Cebu bus companies to ply the BRT routes on trial run. This is the only way to know if the BRT is viable or not.