By Raymund Antonio
Solicitor General Jose Calida’s petition for quo warranto to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from office is not in accordance with the Constitution, Vice President Leni Robredo said today.
Robredo, a lawyer, raised alarm over the unconstitutional attempt to unseat Sereno through other means instead of the impeachment process that is allowed by the Constitution.
“This is alarming because it is clear in the Constitution that the only way to remove the Supreme Court Justice is through impeachment,” she told reporters in Marawi when asked about Calida’s petition.
“The impeachment proceedings are underway. To think of other ways to remove her is against the Constitution,” Robredo explained.
The Vice President was asked to react on the move of the solicitor general asking the SC to nullify the appointment of Sereno for her failure to submit documents required for the highest post in the judiciary.
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 which he or she is not qualified.”
In his petition, Calida questioned before the High Court the validity of Sereno’s appointment because she failed to submit her 10-year statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
The SC was expected to tackle Calida’s quo warranto petition in a full court session.
While stressing that Sereno may be removed from office only by impeachment, Robredo cited a previous SC decision, where it dismissed the disbarment case against former Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan.
She then recalled a similar case meant also to remove then Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales from office.
“The Supreme Court said that is prohibited because the way to remove an impeachable officer is only though impeachment,” Robredo said.
The Vice President said she would put trust in the fairness of high tribunal when it handles the case.
“The essence of the judicial department is impartiality. That is the most important feature of our justice system because without it, how can we trust the institution,” she said.
Robredo noted it is important for the SC to remain “independent and neutral” to keep public trust.