MANILA, Philippines – Citing its “fundamental duty” to uphold the Constitution, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) announced on Thursday, March 22, that it will file an intervention before the Supreme Court (SC) to oppose and seek the dismissal of the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The IBP said in a statement that its Board of Governors reached the decision during a meeting on Wednesday, March 21.
“The Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, in its meeting held yesterday, decided to formally file an intervention with the Supreme Court, in order to oppose and seek the dismissal of the petition for quo warranto initiated by the Office of the Solicitor General against Chief Justice Ma Lourdes A. Sereno,” the IBP said.
The IBP said the decision is anchored on its “fundamental duty, shared with the Supreme Court, to uphold the Constitution, advocate for the rule of law, and safeguard the administration of justice.”
“The IBP Board of Governors thus decided to participate in the proceedings and offer legal insights, with careful effort not to fall into the trap of providing a simplistic answer to the rather complicated question that now confronts the judiciary, the resolution of which is of transcendental importance to our democracy,” it said.
In its intervention to be filed before the High Court, the IBP said it will note that under the 1987 Charter, “impeachment is the only mode of removal of an impeachable officer for an impeachable offense.”
The IBP also said that the SC “may not inquire into the Chief Justice’s alleged lack of integrity without violating the fundamental principle of separation of powers.”
“Having been appointed to her current post, the Chief Justice is presumed to have been previously adjudged by the President as having met the requirement of integrity. Consistent with the separation of powers, such judgment cannot be reviewed, much less reversed, by the Supreme Court. The President remains the ultimate judge of a candidate’s worthiness,” it said.
The IBP added that “entertaining the quo warranto petition on account of the Chief Justice’s supposed lack of integrity is tantamount to subjecting her to the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court.”
“Under the Constitution, the members of the Supreme Court may not be ordered dismissed by any government authority other than by the Senate after an impeachment proceeding,” it said.
Another point to be raised in its intervention, the IBP said, is that “since the Chief Justice may only be removed via impeachment on a question of integrity, the quo warranto proceedings against her may not prosper because what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly.”
Calida earlier initiated a quo warranto proceeding to remove Sereno from office, saying her appointment to the post was void from the start because her non-filing of her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) violated the constitutional requirement of integrity for the chief justice post.
Sereno had asked the SC to junk the petition, saying the Court cannot base a quo warranto proceeding on the allegation that she did not submit SALNs because it is not a valid ground. – Rappler.com