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In appeal of ouster, Sereno warns of 'far-reaching consequences' of SC ruling

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
In appeal of ouster, Sereno warns of 'far-reaching consequences' of SC ruling
Maria Lourdes Sereno filed a 205-paged motion for reconsideration on Wednesday, in a bid to overturn the Supreme Court's historic ruling that granted Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petititon against her that resulted in her ouster as chief justice.
Miguel de Guzman / File

MANILA, Phillippines — Maria Lourdes Sereno, whose appointment as chief justice the Supreme Court voted to void, warned of the “far-reaching consequences” of the landmark grant of a quo warranto petition against an impeachable official.

In her 205-page appeal filed on Wednesday, Sereno asked the court to dismiss the petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida. She asked the SC to overturn its May 11 decision that removed her as chief justice.

Sereno listed down the following as some of the “constitutional and legal rules and principles, and settled judicial precedents” that the historic ruling set aside and ignored when it granted Calida’s petition:

  • “Now, an impeachable officer may also be ousted via quo warranto.”
    Sereno said that this is in violation of the “letter and spirit of Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution” that impeachable officers, including a sitting chief justice, can only be removed by impeachment.
  • “Now, a petition for quo warranto filed by the solicitor general is imprescriptible (or subject to a one-year prescriptive period albeit, reckoned from the ‘discovery of the cause of the ouster’).”
    Sereno said that this is a reversal of Section 11 of Rule 66 of the Rules of Court that provides that every quo warranto petition “must be filed within year from the cause of ouster.”
  • “Now, the political question doctrine applies strictly to the legislative and executive branches of the government.”
    Sereno said this counters the political question doctrine that “had always applied to public officers exercising discretion” such as the Commission on Elections and heads of local government units.
  • “Now, the acts of the Judicial and Bar Council and the president may be nullified in a mere quo warranto petition, even without proof of grave abuse of discretion and even if they are not impleaded.”
    Sereno argued that her appointment to the court is an “official act” of the Judicial and Bar Council and the president. These “official acts: may now be nullified through the SC’s exercise of “expanded power of judicial review.”
  •  “Now, the Supreme Court can set aside the JBC’s rules, standards, and criteria for determining an applicant’s ‘integrity,’ and apply and substitute its own definition and guidelines for determining that quality”
    Sereno raised that the SC has repeatedly affirmed the JBC’s power to create its own rules, which include the determination of a candidate’s ‘integrity.’ Calida’s petition for quo warranto was anchored on Sereno’s alleged lack of integrity for her failure to submit her wealth declaration documents when she applied to the position in 2012.
  • “Now, if the Republic of the Philippines files the petition for quo warranto, the burden of proof is on the respondent (even though she is presumed innocent, and to have been validly appointed).”
    Sereno argued that the court, with the quo warranto ruling, has shifted the burden of proof to the respondent—who is presumed guilty upon filing—and not on the petitioner.

“The Decision illustrates vividly the dire and far-reaching consequences of a denial of due process,” Sereno stated.

‘A plea for the court to do what is right and just’

Sereno stressed that her motion for reconsideration is an opportunity for the high tribunal to do the right and just thing.

She reiterated that six of her colleagues should have recused from the case because they had “lost the impartiality to hear and decide the case.”

Associate Justices Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam—ponente in the case—and Samuel Martires all refused to inhibit from participating in the case.

READ: 'Magnificent Seven' threatens impeachment if vote to oust Sereno not reversed

Sereno also said that it would be “right and just” for the SC to reverse her ouster as it runs against the intention of the framers of the 1987 Constitution.

“The proverbial path to perdition which the majority of this Court has taken, that is paved mainly with the intention of removing the chief justice by any means, can lead only to the destruction of judicial independence and the separation of powers,” she stressed.

“That is a consequence, unintended as it may be, that the respondent earnestly asks this court to veer away from,” Sereno added.

RELATED: Sereno may face disbarment for public remarks against SC

Impeachment case hangs on ruling on appeal

The House of Representatives leaders earlier said that they would rather wait for the finality on the quo warranto ruling before proceeding on the impeachment case against Sereno, pending before the plenary.

Should Sereno's appeal be dismissed by the SC, entry of judgment will follow and the ruling will be deemed final.

The Senate, in plenary, meanwhile, is set to discuss a resolution signed by 14 lawmakers expressing he sense of the Senate “to uphold the constitution on the matter of removing a chief justice from office and respectfully urge the [SC] to review its decision to nullify the appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.”

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said last week that he is not too keen on asserting the Senate’s jurisdiction over the case. He said that he does not want to “interfere” with the Judiciary.

READ: Sotto on quo warranto resolution: I don't interfere with the Judiciary

But the Senate leader said that should the resolution reach the plenary, they will discuss it.

MARIA LOURDES SERENO

QUO WARRANTO PETITION

SUPREME COURT

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