Quo warranto proceedings vs Sereno unconstitutional, says Robredo
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said the quo warranto proceedings to oust Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno are against the 1987 Constitution.
This was Robredo's reply on Tuesday, March 6, when she was asked to react to Solicitor General Jose Calida's petition for quo warranto asking the SC to declare Sereno's appointment as unlawful.
Why Robredo thinks the petition is unconstitutional: The lawyer-turned-politician said the 1987 Constitution clearly stipulates that a chief justice, among other high-ranking officials, may only be removed through impeachment.
"Nakakabahala ito kasi iyong ating Saligang Batas ay klaro naman dito, na iyong tanging paraan ng pagtanggal sa Supreme Court justice ay through impeachment," said Robredo.
(This is worrisome because the Constitution is clear, that the only way to remove a Supreme Court justice is through impeachment.)
She then pointed out that impeachment proceedings against Sereno are already underway at the House of Representatives.
"Para mag-isip ng iba pang paraan para matanggal siya, labag na ito sa Konstitusyon," said Robredo. (To think of other ways to remove her from office is already against the Constitution.)
This is a sentiment shared by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte who is a critic of the Chief Justice.
How Robredo defended her view: The Vice President cited the attempt to disbar former justice Marcelo Fernan in 1988. The SC junked the complaint because a sitting justice may only be removed via impeachment. (READ: Quo warranto precedents: Sereno bats for outright dismissal)
What the Vice President hopes for: For now, Robredo hopes the SC will be fair in handling the quo warranto proceedings against Sereno.
"Sana [maging neutral sila] kasi iyon naman iyong essence ng judicial department. Iyong impartiality, siya iyong pinakamahalagang feature ng ating justice system. Kasi kapag wala na iyon, paano tayo titiwala?" said Robredo.
(I hope they will be neutral because that is the essence of the judicial department. Impartiality is the most crucial feature of our justice system. For without it, how can we trust the system?)
The Vice President added that all Filipinos would suffer if the judiciary loses its impartiality.
"Oras na mawala iyong tiwalang iyon, wala na tayong maaasahan [at wala na ang] magsisiguro na iyong katarungan ay mabibigay sa lahat ng Pilipino," she said.
(Once that trust is lost, we will no longer have anyone to ensure justice will be given to all Filipinos.)
The SC en banc, however, is already moving forward with the quo warranto proceedings against Sereno. They have asked the Chief Justice, who is currently on indefinite leave, to comment on Calida's petition. – Rappler.com