The Supreme Court will tackle today, Tuesday inen banc session the petition for quo warranto filed by the Office of the Solicitor General against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The Manila Times broke the story that the OSG would file the quo warranto case against Sereno for her appointment to be considered void from the beginning because of her failure to meet the requirements, such as submission of all of her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.
After a raffle, the case went to Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the ponente tasked to study the case and make recommendations. Tijam is the second appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte to the court.
He testified before the House of Representatives impeachment hearings on the alleged manipulation of Sereno of the raffle of the petition to transfer the venue of the Maute terrorist cases to Manila.
Calida personally went to the high court to file the quo warranto petition.
He said the filing the quo warranto case against Sereno was “an act of kindness.”
“I don’t expect you to appreciate this but believe me, this is an act of kindness to a fellow lawyer,” he said.
“The Office of the Solicitor General will not allow you to undergo the indignity that the late Chief Justice Renato Corona suffered at the hands of politicians who unjustly convicted him. You do not deserve that,” Calida said.
Sereno is expected to be asked by the high court to comment on the quo warranto charges filed against her.
Calida said the chief justice would be given a chance to answer the allegations against her.
Sereno is facing an impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.
The House of Representatives’ justice committee will vote on the complaint on March 8.
‘Don’t stop impeachment’
Calida clarified that he did not want the House of Representatives to stop its proceedings as a quo warranto proceeding is different from impeachment.
“They can proceed with their impeachment. Insofar as we are concerned, proper remedy is quo warranto,” Calida pointed out.
“Your (Sereno’s) lawyer-spokespersons argued before media that there is only one option to oust an impeachable officer and that is through impeachment. They are horribly wrong. A lawyer who has a basic grasp of our Constitution and jurisprudence ought to know that Impeachment and Quo Warranto are two entirely different proceedings with entirely different grounds for filing,” he explained.
In his 34-page petition for quo warranto, Calida asked the high court to declare void Sereno’s appointment on August 24, 2012. Calida also asked that Sereno be ousted from the position of chief justice.
“Petitioner Republic of the Philippines consequently prays that this Honorable Court: (1) DECLARE as void Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno’s appointment on August 24, 2012 as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines; and (2) OUST Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno from the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines,” the petition read.
The petition of Calida stemmed from a letter filed by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari, who asked the top government lawyer to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against Sereno.
Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto proceeding is an action by the government against a person who unlawfully holds a public office or holds a position where he or she is not qualified.
Sereno’s camp stressed that a quo warranto petition had no legal basis.
“The Supreme Court ought not to entertain the quo warranto petition for it has absolutely no basis in law and in the Constitution. The high tribunal should dismiss the petition outright on the basis that quo warranto is not a proper remedy. Under the 1987 Constitution, the Chief Justice may only be removed from office upon impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court,” Sereno said in a statement.
“We wish to reiterate that this latest action by the Solicitor General is part and parcel of the grand plan to harass, malign and humiliate the Chief Justice to force her to resign because her detractors know that the impeachment case, which was built on lies, won’t stand a chance in the Senate,” she added.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Monday said the high court was functioning normally despite Sereno’s indefinite leave of absence.
Carpio told ABS-CBN News the 13 justices asked Sereno to go on leave, which she agreed to do.
“There was discussion on how best to preserve the integrity of the Supreme Court, how to insulate the Supreme Court from the trial, from all these political moves. At the end of the day, there was an agreement that she will go on leave, with her consent and agreement,” Carpio said.