MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo did not mince words in condemning the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The Vice President called for a press conference 3 hours after the SC voted 8-6 on Friday, May 11, to grant the quo warranto petition to remove Sereno from office on the basis of an invalid appointment.
“Dumating na ang araw na pinangangambahan natin. Ang desisyon ng Kataas-taasang Hukuman na paboran ang quo warranto petition ay tahasang pagyurak sa pinakasagradong institusyon ng ating bayan: Ang ating Saligang Batas,” said Robredo.
(The day we all feared has come. The decision of the Supreme Court to grant the quo warranto petition brazenly tramples on the most sacred institution of our nation: our Constitution.)
She reiterated the 1987 Constitution only permits the removal of the chief justice through impeachment proceedings.
The lawyer-turned-politician said the SC ruling now casts a shadow of doubt on the judiciary’s integrity.
“Ngayong nakompromiso ang pinaka-pundasyon ng ating hudikatura, kanino na tatakbo ang mga Pilipino para sa patas na laban at kahit kapiraso man lang na katarungan? Saan na tayo dudulog kung ang pinaka-integridad ng institusyon na ating sandigan ay siya nang nadungisan?” asked Robredo.
(Now that the foundation of our judiciary has been compromised, to whom will Filipinos turn for justice? Where will we go now that the integrity of the institution that was supposed to protect us has been tarnished?)
It was only 4 days ago when the Vice President showed her support for Sereno in a speech during the Free the Courts forum at the University of the Philippines. Robredo said she would defend the Constitution and “do everything in [her] power to right this wrong.”
‘The fight continues’
Despite her disappointment over the SC, Robredo said hope is not lost.
“Sa mga panahong tulad nito, paghugutan natin ng lakas at tapang ang isa’t isa. Sa kabila ng lahat, nananatili ang isang katotohanang hinding-hindi matitinag: Ang ating huling pag-asa ay ang bawat isa,” said Robredo.
(In times like this, we draw strength and courage from each other. Despite everything, one truth remains: our last hope is each other.
“Bilang Pangalawang Pangulo, tinitiyak ko sa inyo: hindi pa tapos ang laban, lalo na’t naging malapit ang botohan sa isang mabigat na desisyong tulad nito,” she added.
(As Vice President, I guarantee you: the fight is not over, especially when the vote for a crucial decision such as this one was close.)
Sereno is expected to file a motion for reconsideration.
The Vice President then called on the public to be more vigilant and take the “necessary” steps to bring back the people’s trust on the justice system.
“Sama-sama nating isulong ang lahat ng nararapat na hakbang para itama ang pagkakamaling ito. Ito ang tanging paraan para manumbalikang tiwala ng taumbayan. Tuloy ang laban!” said Robredo.
(Together, let us do all the necessary steps to right this wrong. This is the only way for the public’s trust to return. The fight continues!)
Robredo’s partymate at the Liberal Party, former president Benigno Aquino III, said the decision was “forced.”
He likened the ruling to sour, unripe mangoes forced on the people to consume.
"Makailang ulit nang nasabi ng Korte Suprema: Kung ang batas ay malinaw na, di na kailangan ng paliwanag pa. Klaro ang nasa Saligang Batas: ang impeachable officer, sa pamamagitan pang ng impeachment maaalis sa pwesto. Sa aking pananaw, kung anuman ang magiging paliwanag ng mayorya, ang makikita lang natin ay isang pilit na pilit na desisyon," Aquino said.
(The Supreme Court had said on several occasions: If the law is already clear, it doesn't have to be explained. The Constitution is clear: an impeachable officer can be removed from office through impeachment. In my view, however the majority explains it, what we can only see is a forced decision.)
"Ang tanong ngayon: Gaano kaya kaasim ang desisyong pilit nilang isusubo sa atin (The question now: How sour is this decision that they're forcing us to take)? – with a report from Camille Elemia / Rappler.com