By Ben Rosario
The opposition Magnificent Seven reiterated its threat to impeach eight Supreme Court justices unless they decide to reverse their quo warranto decision for the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
This time, the seven lawmakers allied with the Liberal party, declared they are not bluffing, saying that the impeachment case will be filed as soon as the eight magistrates issue a ruling that would not change their previous decision on Sereno.
“The only viable remedy and constitutional mode of holding justices accountable for their blunder is to remove them from office by impeachment,” the Magnificent Seven stressed in a joint statement.
“To let them escape scot-free is to condone injustice and oppression,” they said.
The group is headed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who is known for parrying impeachment attempts against Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, during her term as president.
Other members are Representatives. Raul Daza (LP, Samar); Edgar Erice (LP, Caloocan City); Emmanuel Billones (LP, Capiz); Teddy Baguilat (LP, Ifugao); Gary Alejano (Magdalo Partylist); Tom Villarin (Akbayan Partylist).
They identified the eight justices that may be held liable for impeachment as Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro; Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes and Alexander Gesmundo.
The eight ruled in a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida that Sereno failed to meet the requirements set in becoming an SC chief justice.
The Magnificent Seven said the decision made them liable for culpable violation of the constitution for having “arrogated the power and jurisdiction of the Congress to impeach the Chief Justice” as provided under the 1987 Constitution.
“They repudiated the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for the appointment by the President of Chief Justice Sereno which is the sole prerogative of the JBC under Section 8(5) of Article VIII of the Constitution which expressly provides that the JBC “shall have the principal function of recommending appointees to the Judiciary,” they said.
The SC magistrates are also guilty of betrayal of public trust for refusing to inhibit themselves from participating in the deliberation and adjudication of the quo warranto petition against Sereno.
According to them, those to be held for this offense are De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Jardeleza and Tijam, who all “publicly expressed their bias against” Sereno during the impeachment hearings of the House committee on justice.
“All the eight justices, despite their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, subverted the fundamental law by utterly disregarding the clear provisions of the constitution, thus, abandoning the public trust reposed on them,” the opposition solons said.
They stressed: “Verily, the grievously errant eight Justices must be impeached for culpable violation of the Constitution and patent betrayal of public trust, among other impeachable offenses.”