In this March 9, 2018 photo, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno waves as she arrives for a forum with foreign correspondents based in the country in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. The embattled Philippine chief justice has returned to office after taking leave two months ago amid efforts by President Rodrigo Duterte's administration to oust her from the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's spokesman Jojo Lacanilao told The Associated Press that she resumed work Wednesday, May 9, 2018, at the Supreme Court, defying calls from Duterte's allies for her to step down.
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
SC votes to oust Sereno
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) - May 11, 2018 - 11:00am

MANILA, Philippines  (Update 3, 12:58 p.m.) — The Supreme Court voted to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno over her supposed failure to meet the "integrity test" of her position despite earlier warnings that such a decision would trigger a constitutional crisis.

Voting 8-6 in a special en banc session on Friday, the SC declared void Sereno's appointment as chief justice.

SC spokesperson Theodore Te, quoting the dispositive of the decision, said: "Wherefore, the Petition for Quo Warranto is granted."

"Respondent [Sereno] is found disqualified from and is hereby adjudged guilty of unlawfully holding and exercising the Office of the Chief Justice. Accordingly, Sereno is ousted and excluded therefrom," Te added.

The ruling is immediately executory.

Those who voted in favor of the ouster were Associate Justices Noel Tijam, Teresita De Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo.

The dissenting votes were Associate Justices Estela Bernabe, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Presbitero Jose Velasco Jr., Mariano Del Castillo, Marvic Leonen, Antonio Carpio. Bernabe is currently out of the country but left a vote against the quo warranto.

The camp of Sereno already said that they will appeal the ruling, condemned by lawyers in the Free Legal Assistance Group and the chief of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as unconstitutional. Sereno is given 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration.

Friday's decision paves the way for a constitutional crisis, wherein the high court has assumed a function the fundamental law grants solely to Congress—to oust the top magistrate through an impeachment proceedings. The ongoing proceeding at the lower house that comes before a Senate-led trial is now invalidated.

READ: How the quo warranto petition vs Sereno could affect the judiciary

Majority says voiding her appointment a valid recourse

The justices also ruled on whether the quo warranto is the proper remedy on the case. The justices voted 9-5 on the matter.

It only took two months for the Supreme Court to rule on Solicitor General Jose Calida's plea, filed on March 5, that challenged the legality of Sereno's appointment to the high court.

The 14-member court, led by Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, held the hours-long oral argument on the case last April 10 at the SC Session Hall in Baguio City.

Sereno has earlier asked six of her colleagues—who she claimed has shown bias against her— to inhibit from the case. These were De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Jardeleza, Tijam and Martires.

The decision was penned by Tijam.

Related video:

MARIA LOURDES SERENO QUO WARRANTO SUPREME COURT
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 21, 2018 - 8:37am

An insider source of The STAR says the decision on Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's quo warranto was already signed by seven justices ahead of this morning's special en banc session.

Court observers said that based on the April 10 oral arguments on the quo warranto petition against Sereno, it seemed that majority of the justices were inclined to vote for the removal of the head magistrate.

READ: How the quo warranto petition vs Sereno could affect the judiciary

— with Edu Punay

May 21, 2018 - 8:37am

A group of justices and employees of the Supreme Court expresses support for the high court after its decision to oust Sereno as chief justice.

 

 

The Senate will take up today a resolution signed by 14 of its members seeking a review of the high court's decision to remove an impeachable official via a quo warranto.

READ: The cards are stacked against Sereno but she may have an ace up her sleeve

May 15, 2018 - 9:41am

The Coalition for Justice urges the Senate to take a collective stand against the Supreme Court decision ousting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by asserting its exclusive right to remove impeachable officials.

“We respectfully ask you to remind the Supreme Court that the Senate's sole power over impeachable officers must not be impugned by a co-equal branch of government,” the CFJ says in an open letter to senators.

“If the Decision remains unchallenged and the Senate's duty is unperformed, the dire fallout on our system and people will lie at the Senate's door,” it warns.

May 12, 2018 - 9:40am

New York-based Human Rights Watch slams the “unprecedented and nefarious” removal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom President Rodrigo Duterte calls his “enemy” that must leave the Supreme Court.

“Sereno’s ouster also kicks open the door for wanton removals of members of other constitutional bodies, such as the Commission on Human Rights,” HRW says in a statement.

“Ultimately, the rejection of constitutional checks and balances concentrates power in the hands of Duterte and his allies, posing the greatest danger to democracy in the Philippines since the Marcos dictatorship,” it adds.

May 11, 2018 - 7:24pm

The Supreme Court releases the full text of the decision on the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whose appoinment to her post was deemed invalid earlier today.

Read the full decision here.

May 11, 2018 - 12:40pm

Sen. Sonny Angara makes a stand that ousting a chief justice is not a decision for a Supreme Court to make.

"I do not agree with the decision because impeachment is the only constitutional route for removal of a Chief Justice, but we acknowledge that the Court has spoken," Angara says in a statement.

"The ripple effect of the decision may be felt in the coming months and years. I pray that wisdom and sobriety prevail in the future for the good of the country and our people," he adds.

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