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CJ can shorten agony

Another Chief Justice will face an impeachment court, likely in July, the second in two consecutive administrations but this time around, the head of the Supreme Court, Maria Lourdes Sereno, faces accusations which are bigger that included questions on her qualification.
The question on her posting as chief magistrate revolves around her mental capabilities which experts said should have disqualified her from even being nominated to the seat.
Psychologist Geraldine Tria said Sereno displayed five of nine symptoms of “mental disturbance” and she should not have been recommended as head of the judiciary.
An evaluation made by two Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) psychiatrists in 2012 showed Sereno got the second-lowest score of four in a scale of one to five, according to Tria.
The JBC is the body that vets candidates for vacancies in the Supreme Court (SC) through a shortlist that it submits to the President.
Sereno was the most junior associate justice when President Aquino appointed her as Chief Justice in 2012 in place of the ousted late Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Aquino disregarded the seniority tradition in appointing the Chief Justice that caused resentment among the members of the high court.
The ab initio questions on her appointment paves the way, according to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, for a quo warranto proceeding instead of the more tedious Senate impeachment trial.
Being risked in the focus of Congress’ attention being diverted to the Senate process are crucial legislative measures mainly the Federalism shift which appears to acquire more urgency as time passes.
Under the proposed formula of Alvarez, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) may file a petition before the SC, questioning the validity of Sereno’s appointment, using the findings during the House committee on justice impeachment hearings.
Alvarez said the question on the validity of her appointment before the SC can proceed simultaneous with the impeachment trial.
Alvarez added the simultaneous process is even complementary as questions on her qualification including her failing the psychological test could constitute as a ground for betrayal of public trust, one of the grounds for her impeachment.
“It’s a serious matter, betrayal of public trust for she had pretended she psychologically capable when she could have cheated,” Alvarez added.
If the SC declares Sereno’s appointment invalid, the impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives would be rendered moot “because there is nobody to impeach in the first place” thus saving the nation from anguish in ongoing through another prolonged divisive proceeding at the Senate court.
Lawyer Eligio Mallari, president of Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, has filed a petition with the OSG for the quo warranto process based on SC Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta’s statement in one of the hearings of the committee that she failed to submit all her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) to the judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
Peralta even stated during the House hearing he considers Sereno as a “de facto chief justice.”
Peralta’s view, according to Mallari, was shared by SC Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro when the latter said that her appointment was “unfair to other contenders.”
Sereno’s title to the office could be tried in a quo warranto proceeding and may be instituted either by the person who claims to be entitled to the office or by the Republic of the Philippines represented by the Solicitor General or a public prosecutor, the complainant said.
Solgen Jose Calida thus may hold the key to shortening the agony of both the nation and the judiciary over the chief whose claim of the top SC position may have been the product of a political shortcut from Noynoy.
Of course, Sereno herself may provide the relief from another political maelstrom by the simple act of resignation.

1 comment

  • Milan

    It is as if Sereno is daring Congress to impeach her. Does she have assurance that Aquino will again bribe senators in an impeachment trial and this time the bribe will be to acquit? Aquino will need much less money to bribe this time because only 8 senators are required to acquit.

    Milan Sunday, 04 March 2018 03:08 Comment Link

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