THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) will ask the Supreme Court to junk the quo warranto petition seeking to oust Chief Justice Sereno, saying that such a move will violate the Constitution.
The IBP was referring to the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, which has stalled the impeachment proceedings against Sereno at the House of Representatives.
“The IBP, 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 Sereno. Impeachment is the only mode of removal of an impeachable officer for an impeachable offense,” the IBP said in a statement signed by its president Abdiel Fajardo.
The IBP argued that the Supreme Court 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 IBP said.
Calida is seeking to remove Sereno based on her alleged failure to submit all the copies of her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth during her 10-year tenure as faculty member of the UP College of Law to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC)—the panel screening the applicants for the Chief Justice—back in 2012.
The non-submission of complete SALN is a violation of JBC rules, but council members at that time argued that they only agreed to a significant compliance of the rule on submitting SALNs, and as such Sereno still made the shortlist since she submitted three — 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Sereno’s camp, however, reasoned out that the JBC also allowed other applicants for chief justice namely Supreme Court Associate Justices Roberto Abad, Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Deans Raul Pangalangan and Amado Valdez, as well as Congressman Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan, to submit only a significant number of SALNs.
“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,” the IBP added.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte, for his part, denied that the House was giving way to the quo warranto petition so as to ensure that Congress would have enough time to push for Charter Change.
“That is not true. Those are speculation. Impeachment is different from quo warranto, and we can’t stop the quo warranto petition because under the impeachment process, there’s a presumption of a valid appointment. The quo warranto, on the other hand, attacks the validity of the appointment,” Alvarez said in a chance interview. LLANESCA T. PANTI