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Speaker: Quo warranto proper but Minority smells collusion

Predictably, the opposition in the House of Representatives, claimed that there is collusion between the House and SC justices in the quo warranto case against Chief Justice on indefinite leave Lourdes Sereno lodged by the Solicitor General Jose Calida Monday before the Supreme Court.

But Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez takes the view that a quo warranto case is proper and can co-exist with impeachment proceedings.
Speaker Alvarez yesterday said the filing of a petition for quo warranto by the Solicitor General to question the validity of the appointment of the Chief Justice is a proper course of action.
In an ambush interview, Alvarez noted that the ongoing impeachment process and the quo warranto petition of the Sol Gen are two separate causes of action that can proceed independently of each other.
“Well that (quo warranto) is correct. There are two fiferent causes of action, right? The impeachment is exclusive to Congress but it presupposes a valid appointment. 

“That’s a proper course of action, this quo warranto because there are two separate causes of action. The impeachment process is exclusive to Congress but it presupposes a valid appointment. Now what quo warranto questions is the validity of the appointment itself. So quo warranto is proper because that power is exclusive to the judicial branch of government.
Alvarez allayed the concern that the quo warranto proceedings lodged against Sereno would set a dangerous precedent and open the floodgates of similar suits to seek the ouster of impeachable officials.
“No, it wouldn’t because what is the subject of quo warranto here is the validity of the appointment. If the appointee has complied with all the requirements then he could never be the subject of a quo warranto proceeding.
Likewise, Alvarez dismissed the contention of Sereno’s camp that her appointment as Chief Justice is valid because it complied with the basic constitutional requirements and that the submission of the SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth) is just a supplementary requirement imposed by the Judicial and Bar Council.
“That’s not correct because submission of SALN is mandated under the Constitution. All government employees are required to submit their SALNs as provided for in the Constitution. If you fail to submit your SALN you are not only administratively, but possibly even criminally, liable.
Art. XI, Section 17 of the Constitution provides that: “A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth.”
“As a lawyer, I think there is good basis for the quo warranto petition.
Inhibition call to SC
justices not the answer
Alvarez also dismissed the call for the inhibition in the quo warranto case of the SC justices who demanded that Sereno take an indefinite leave.
“None of the justices would remain to decide the case. I don’t think so. Why should they inhibit when that’s their job? Besides there is no personal interest involved here.
Out of respect for the court, Alvarez refused to comment if the action of the 13 justices who asked Sereno to go on indefinite leave is indicative of the possible ruling of the High Court in the quo warranto case.
“I don’t know. Anything can happen,” Alvarez said.
But until the SC renders a decision on the quo warranto case, Alvarez said the House can proceed with the impeachment proceedings. The High Court has included the quo warranto case for its en banc deliberations yesterday.
“We’ll just continue the impeachment proceedings because that’s a separate process. On our part, we will just assume that her appointment is valid.
The House committee on justice is set to vote Thursday to determine the existence of probable cause to impeach Sereno. However, Alvarez said the House may opt to await the SC ruling before the plenary decides whether or not to send the case to the Senate for trial.
There is also nothing wrong if the justice committee is reportedly preparing the articles of impeachment even before the actual voting to speed up the process, according to Alvarez. He noted that Sereno has dared the House to immediately send the impeachment to the Senate for trial.
On the other hand, Alvarez said that the SC rules in favor of the quo warranto case, the ground for Sereno’s impeachment ceases to exist.
“If the Supreme Court grants the quo warranto that means the appointment was declared invalid, so who are we going to impeach? Nobody,” Alvarez stressed.
Alvarez said he is leaving it to the hands of Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to map out the proper course of action for the House.
If the case reaches the Senate for trial, Alvarez said he would leave the task of prosecuting Sereno to other more qualified lawmakers. Instead, Alvarez said he would rather stay in the sidelines to watch the proceedings.
“I’d just be there to applaud the prosecutors).
Usual oppositors insist on collusion theory
Albay Rep Edcel Lagman and Magdalo Rep Gary Alejano made the statement of suspicion of collusion between the House and the Supreme Court Justices following the reluctance of the House to pursue its impeachment complaint before the Senate impeachment court.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said that the House is going to wait for the resolution of a quo warranto case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Sereno at the Supreme Court.
Lagman, Alejano and some other House members including administration lawmaker Ako Bicol Rep Rodel Batocabe are of the view that the House should not surrender its mandate as the sole body that should deal with the removal of impeachable officials.
“I don’t know whether the House should surrender it’s prerogative [to impeach Chief Justice],” Lagman said yesterday.
Lagman said that Fariñas’ statement could be an indication that the leadership of the House has advance information...that a petition for quo warranto would be filed.
“I see no reason why the House should forfeit it power and wait until the quo warranto petition is resolved by the Supreme Court,” Lagman said.
Alejano, for his part, said the fact that the House leadership wanted to wait for the result of the quo warranto petition means they’re not confident with the impeachment being favored by the Senators.
“It’s very clear that they wanted to remove the Chief Justice. And some of the justices of the Supreme Court I believe connived with members of the House in order to remove Chief Justice,” Alejano said.
“Remember, in other administrations, all of those who connived with the members of the House could be subject to impeachment as well. The House depends on who is in the administration,”, he added.
Alejano charged that some of the members of the Supreme Court “gave in to the converging interest of so many sectors including their own interest.”
On the quo warranto case, Lagman said it will preempt the power of the House to impeach the Chief Justice and the jurisdiction of the Senate to try and judge the culpability of the Chief Justice.
Lagman said he would like to get a lead from what Alejano said of a possible collusion between the House leadership and some of the justices of the. Supreme Court.
“Remember when there was this en banc proceeding last week which was perceived to oust the Chief Justice and subsequently they relented because they did not succeed and compelled the Chief Justice to file an indefinite leave of absence, no less than the chairman of the committee on justice had a running update of what was happening in the Supreme Court,” Lagman said.
“Most probably, no less than the committee on justice realize that their articles of impeachment cannot hold water in the Senate,” the Albay lawmaker said.
Fariñas said that after voting on the probable cause of the impeachment complaint, the House in plenary would at the earliest act on the complaint by May 14, 2018 depending on the action to be taken by the SC on the quo warranto case.
Meanwhile, a broad coalition of various sectors reiterated its support for Sereno in anticipation of what it called “unfair and unjust” report by the House Committee on Justice on the fatally defective impeachment complaint filed against the top magistrate.
The Coalition for Justice (CFJ) maintained that the impeachment case against Sereno is “a baseless and oppressive act to remove the independent head of the judiciary.”
“We stand with the Chief Justice and join her in her fight to defend the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and our threatened democracy,” the CFJ said in a statement.
CFJ serves as an umbrella organization for individuals, groups and organizations from diverse religious and political persuasions.

1 comment

  • bubbles12

    If quo warranto prevails, what happens to the votes of the CJ on landmark & close voting decided by the SC? Will it nullify the votes of Sereno eversince? Magiging magulo na ang "records" ng Korte Suprema as negative chain reaction will follow. I fully agree with Leonen that the quo warranto petition must be dismissed outright.

    bubbles12 Wednesday, 07 March 2018 08:09 Comment Link

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