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Senators warn vs quo warranto on CJ

Opposition senators yesterday issued warned against efforts to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno aside from the impeachment proceedings in the Senate.

A petition before the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) sought a quo warranto process to void her appointment as head of Supreme Court allegedly due to her fraudulent appointment.
Such a proceeding could result in the removal of Sereno even ahead of the deliberations in the House of Representatives, whether to adopt the Articles of Impeachment against her.
Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV made the twin call after Sereno announced her decision to take an indefinite leave of absence as some magistrates who allegedly “confronted” the Chief Justice to ask her to resign.
Some raised the issue of loss of confidence on Sereno citing the gravity of the allegations against her, reports said.
Pangilinan and Trillanes were in unison in asserting that any attempts to remove Sereno through a process other than impeachment is unconstitutional.
“It will be a brazen usurpation of the exclusive power of Congress under the Constitution,” Trillanes, in a statement said.
Trillanes threatens SC justices
“May I remind these justices that any unconstitutional act they commit now, can be used as a ground for impeachment against them later on under a different administration,” he added.
Pangilinan, who is a lawyer and current chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, stressed that a sitting Chief Justice cannot be removed through any other process except through impeachment and a trial and a conviction in an impeachment court.
“Any manner other than impeachment of removing a sitting Chief Justice or any justice or any official who are impeachable is contrary to the Constitution,” he said.
“That is my position. That is my personal opinion as a senator and as a lawyer and my understanding of the constitutional provisions on impeachment and impeachable official and the impeachment trial and the impeachment court,” Pangilinan said.
For those who will be retired by the time the impeachment proceedings take place, Trillanes said such acts can be and will be used as a basis for possible graft cases. Trillanes hastened to point out that efforts to remove Sereno through a process other than impeachment will be a brazen usurpation of the exclusive power of Congress under the Constitution.

The senator was specific in citing reports on some SC justices “headed by AJ (Associate Justice) Marvic Leonen are maneuvering to force the unconstitutional removal of Sereno.”
Trillanes was obviously referring to reports that Leonen alleged to have lead the so-called pack of SC magistrates egging Sereno to take a leave of absence.
Reports said that the group of magistrates that backed Leonen’s position would have pushed for her temporary departure had their suggestion was put to a vote.

SC credibility at stake
Minority Leader Sen. Franklin Drilon expressed hope the issue at the Supreme Court will be resolved immediately “before permanent damage is done to the institution”.
Drilon admitted he has never seen the “kind of spectacle in my 50 years as a lawyer” as the current rift within the SC.
“I am saddened by what is happening in the Supreme Court. And with what is happening today, people would lose respect for the judiciary,” he said.
He said the respect for the judiciary is significant for the “continued adherence and faith to our democratic system and rule of law”.
“If you entertain doubts about the administration of justice in the country then you start to doubt about the ability of our government to enforce the law, the courts to enforce the rule of law as the final arbiter of the Constitution,” he added.
He cited that there can be “differences” in an organization but the Supreme Court “is not an ordinary organization”.
“The faith of our people in our democracy rest on the confidence of our people on the ability of the Supreme Court to administer fairly this dispute,” he added.
Sereno has maintained that she would not resign despite the joint statement of Associate Justices that she should take an indefinite leave from her post.

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