DOJ Chief backs quo warranto ruling by SC

Published June 21, 2018, 3:03 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he personally believes that the Supreme Court (SC) was right in removing former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno via quo warranto.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

“As a law professor, I think the decision was correct in so far as making a distinction between quo warranto and impeachment as a mode of removing a justice of the Supreme Court,” he said during his interview over CNN Philippines yesterday (June 21).

On Tuesday, the SC affirmed its May 11 majority ruling when it voted 8-6 to grant the quo warranto petition of Solicitor General Jose Calida.

The quo warranto petition sought to void the 2012 appointment of Sereno as chief justice since she failed to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) which was one of the requirements of set by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

Sereno has opposed the quo warranto petition against her as she insisted that, under the Constitution, impeachable officers like the chief justice can only be removed through impeachment based on culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and commission of high crimes.

However, Guevarra believes that if such stance must prevail this must be made clear in the draft of the new Constitution being shaped by the Consultative Committee on charter change.

“If I may suggest, in order to avoid a similar situation in the future, now that the Constitution is proposed to be amended, we rather make it very clear in the Constitution that the only way to remove impeachable officers would be by impeachment,” the Secretary said.

“Otherwise the Supreme Court may change the rules of court pertaining to quo warranto and make it very clear likewise that even impeachable officers may be subjected to quo warranto,” he pointed out.