IBP to appeal Sereno ouster; lawyers called to rise up

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on Friday, May 11, that it intends to seek the reversal of a Supreme Court ruling that ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

“We are awaiting official receipt of the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) in Republic vs. Sereno, with an eye towards seeking its reconsideration or reversal,” IBP national president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo said on Friday, May 11.

The SC en banc voted 8-6 on Friday to oust Sereno. 

“This is pursuant to our position that only the Senate, assembled as an impeachment court, has the power to dismiss an incumbent Justice of the Supreme Court on questions pertaining to his or her alleged lack of integrity,” Fajardo said.

However, when Fajardo and the IBP first attempted to intervene, the petition was only “noted” by the Court. (READ: After ouster as CJ, Sereno says ‘the fight has just started’)

Only Congress

According to constitutional law professor Dan Gatmaytan, it is only the Congress which has the personality to challenge the quo warranto petition.

“[The Congress] would have a stronger case because they are the party in interest, because it is their function to do what the Supreme Court is trying to do,” Gatmaytan said.

Ha added: “The IBP, it’s always hard for them to defend their personality, sometimes they say they have to make sure the law is followed. That doesn’t always work in the Supreme Court especially in a case like this.” (READ: After SC ousts her, what can Sereno do now?)

But as of Friday, either chambers have not expressed intent to challenge this ruling.

At most, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III issued a statement asserting the Senate’s right “as the one and only impeachment court.” Words, though, will not make much difference.

The Senate has to act as a body and go to the SC and challenge jurisdiction.

Final nail in the coffin

The ouster was also slammed by prominent legal groups.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) called on lawyers to join upcoming protests.

“The NUPL calls on all members of the bench and the bar nationwide to step-up the protests against the breakdown of the so-called rule of law and the erosion of judicial independence in all legitimate forms and fora possible,” the group said in a statement.

The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) said the decision was the “final nail in the coffin of judicial independence.” (READ: Disbarment threat hangs over Sereno’s head in SC ouster)

“Its signals a new era of judicial obsequiousness to the executive and legislative departments,” said Chel Diokno, FLAG chairman and dean of the De La Salle College of Law.

Diokno added: “With this decision, the Court has not only emasculated its own powers, it has abdicated its great role as guardian of the Constitution.”

Diokno appealed to the concurring justices to “reconsider their votes, set aside their personal feelings and sentiments, and resolve this case purely and squarely on the basis of the Constitution.”Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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