By Jeffrey Damicog
Opposition Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV today asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse its ruling which granted the quo warranto petition to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
In a 25-page motion for reconsideration, the two senators sought for the “outright dismissal of the quo warranto petition, it being without basis and, in fact, contrary to the Constitution.”
On May 11, the SC en banc voted 8-6 to grant the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
The quo warranto petition sought to nullify the 2012 appointment of Sereno as chief justice since she failed to submit before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) which was one of the requirements set for the candidates.
In their motion, the lawmakers pointed out the Constitution expressly states that impeachable officers like the chief justice can only be removed through impeachment.
“The quo warranto petition filed by the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) seeks the removal or ouster of the Chief Justice via a means other than impeachment,” the motion read.
“This is contrary to the language, spirit and design of the Constitution,” they added.
It can be recounted that Sereno insisted that a SALN is not a measure of integrity and that the JBC back in 2012 eventually decided to do away with requirement since many of the applicants have difficulty complying.
“In any case, the Solicitor General’s allegation of lack of ‘integrity’ on the part of the Chief Justice for her supposed incomplete SALN when she applied for the position of Chief Justice is a question that does not go into her constitutional qualification. Submission of SALN is, in the first place, not a constitutional qualification.
In the same motion, de Lima and Trillanes also pushed for the inhibition of six SC justices from participating in the quo warranto case for having shown bias against Sereno.
“In the course of the proceedings, the animosity between the parties and some of the members of the Honorable Court became quite palpable and apparent. It has become evident that the Honorable Court cannot render a judgment based purely on the merits of the case, given such hostile environment.
Prior her ouster, Sereno sought the inhibition of Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Lucas Bersamin and Samuel Martires from handling the quo warranto case. They are among the eight magistrates who voted in favor of the quo warranto petition.