Calls to drop Sereno quo warranto intensify as supporters fast at SC

MANILA, Philippines – Groups opposing the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno have intensified their protests with the publication of a newspaper manifesto which was also submitted as a signed petition to the Senate and a religious group holding a fast in front of the Supreme Court (SC).

A manifesto was published in a newspaper on Wednesday, May 2, with several groups denouncing the quo warranto petition as “illegal and a betrayal of democracy.” It was signed by former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr, former senator Rene Saguisag, former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo, former human rights chairman Etta Rosales and National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera and Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera.

The manifesto was also signed by Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV. 

The group sent this manifesto to the Senate also on Wednersday, as it called on senators to “disregard an illegal grant of quo warranto.”

This call assumes that the Supreme Court (SC) will grant the quo warranto and oust Sereno on May 11 the soonest. Senate President Aquilino “Kiko” Pimentel III has said the upper house is in the position to vote on the validity of an SC ouster, in the event that the High Court does vote to kick the Chief Justice out. (READ: As quo warranto decision nears, Sereno hits SC for 'unfairness')

If the SC decides to remove Sereno when the Senate has convened as an impeachment court, Pimentel said the upper chamber of Congress can decide on the validity of the high court's action.  The Senate President said they will convene as an impeachment court upon receiving the articles of impeachment from the House of Representatives.

Pimentel said once the Senate convenes as an impeachment court it is the only body constitutionally-mandated to remove a Chief Justice.

Scenarios

But scenarios are uncertain at this point. The impeachment complaint is still at the House of Representatives and not at the Senate, and House leaders have said they are inclined to follow whatever the SC does.

The House is on break and will resume on May 15. Insiders said the SC will likely vote on May 11. 

“It indicates an active connivance with the executive and the legislative conspirators against CJ Sereno,” said the manifesto published in a newspaper.

FASTING. Father Robert Reyes and other supporters of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno set up a tent near the Supreme Court on May 1, the first day of a 10-day fasting activity. Photo by Aldrin Penamora

FASTING. Father Robert Reyes and other supporters of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno set up a tent near the Supreme Court on May 1, the first day of a 10-day fasting activity.

Photo by Aldrin Penamora

Meanwhile at the SC, an inter-faith group has set up camp to fast and pray for the “restoration of truth, justice and righteousness.”

Led by Coalition for Justice (CFJ) lead convenor Pastor Caloy Diño, 5 core fasters have began the movement which will last for 10 days. It began on Tuesday, May 1, and will end on May 10.

The core fasters will stay at the SC and do a full fast for the whole 10 days.

The situation spells a constitutional crisis. Sereno has so far refused to answer questions on whether she will challenge a possible ouster, or if she will recognize it at all.  (READ: Experts agree: Supreme Court will have last say on Sereno)

Her position that the quo warranto petition is unconstitutional has the support of retired SC Justice Vicente Mendoza.

Mendoza said the one-year time limit has passed, and that an impeachable officer like Sereno cannot be removed through other routes that are not impeachment. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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