De Castro impeachment ‘moot and academic’ when she retires

MANILA, Philippines – The impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro would be deemed “moot and academic” should her retirement precede the resolution of the proceedings at the House of Representatives. 

This is according to Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Salvador Leachon, chairperson of the House committee on justice, on Tuesday, August 28. 

“If the retirement of the Chief Justice would precede before the termination of the case, then definitely the case against her would be moot and academic because the primary objective of an impeachment is removal of any person from public office for commission of the few limited and exclusive grounds as impeachable offenses under the Constitution,” said Leachon.

On August 23, 4 opposition lawmakers filed impeachment complaints against De Castro and the following 6 SC justices who voted to oust Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice through a quo warranto petition:

But two days later, on August 25, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed De Castro as the new Chief Justice. (READ: CJ De Castro: Collegiality is back at the Supreme Court)

Her stint will be brief, as she is set to retire on October 8. (READ: The test of legacy for Chief Justice De Castro)

Impeachment proceedings at the House take months to finish. The impeachment complaint filed against Sereno in 2017 was not even done when the SC voted 8-6 in May to favor the quo warranto petition that nullified her appointment as chief justice. 

The impeachment complaint against Sereno was later deemed moot and academic.

Leachon said once the complaint against De Castro is rendered moot and academic, this would not affect the status of the impeachment complaints against the 6 other SC justices.

It would also not bar the complainants from filing criminal charges against De Castro should they wish to do so. 

“In some other cases, in fact even in the previous cases, other than the filing of impeachment complaint, even after conviction or acquittal of the case, anybody can file the appropriate criminal or administrative complaints against those impeachable officers,” said the lawyer-turned-lawmaker. 

Leachon previously said the committee on justice would be tackling the impeachment complaints next Tuesday, September 4. They would first need to determine if the complaints are sufficient in form, then substance. Otherwise, the complaints will be dismissed. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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