SC en banc to Sereno: Comment on quo warranto

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc on Tuesday, March 6, asked Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to comment on the quo warranto petition filed just the day before by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Calida asked the High Court to declare void the appointment of Sereno as chief justice, in effect, ousting her.

“The court, without giving due course to the petition, required the respondent to submit her comment on the petition quo warranto within a period of 10 days from receipt of notice,” SC Spokesman Theodore Te said in a news conference on Tuesday, March 6.

The term "without giving due course to the petition" means that the SC has neither agreed nor disagreed with the petition yet, and that it can still be dismissed.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen dissented in this decision, saying that in his opinion, the petition should be dismissed outright.

Te said Leonen was the only one who dissented and did not answer questions on who else were part of the decision.

The en banc also decided on Tuesday to junk a similar quo warranto petition filed by Marcos loyalist Oliver Lozano "for failing to provide substantial allegations to justify a course of action."

That the en banc is taking this step reignites fears of legal experts, both independent observers and in Congress, that the SC is entertaining an extra-constitutional move to oust Sereno, an impeachable officer.

Constitutional law professor Dan Gatmaytan said the precedents cited by Calida in his petition "do not ensure the Chief Justice will be removed from office."

"They still have to overcome the constitutional provision that justices can only be removed by impeachment," Gatmaytan said.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte who has repeatedly criticized Sereno, insists that the Chief Justice can only be removed by impeachment.

"If you invent some other proceeding, which will result [in their removal] from office, that [would] violate that provision in the Constitution. First impression, malabo (it's unclear)," Pimentel said. – 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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