LEFTIST lawmakers on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, saying it would set “a very dangerous precedent” that could be used against any impeachable officer.
In a motion for intervention and an opposition-in-intervention, the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives sought the dismissal of the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, making them the second group to formally oppose the removal bid on the same day.
The lawmakers said the quo warranto case sets a “very dangerous and ruinous precedent that can even be used against any impeachable officer, including other justices of the Supreme Court who go against the wishes of and [are] in the crosshairs of the administration or interest groups,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement.
Named intervenors are Zarate, ACT Teachers Party-list Reps. Antonio Tinio and Francisca Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party Reps. Emerenciana de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao, and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
Former senator Rene Saguisag, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr., Aksyon Demokratiko affiliate Kaye Ann Legaspi, and National Union of People’s Lawyers Secretary-General Ephraim Cortez are also included in the list of intervenors.
The intervenors also include Francisco Alcuaz, Bonifacio Ilagan, and retired colonel George Rabusa, all convenors of the watchdog group Movement Against Tyranny.
Intervention is a remedy by which a third party who is not originally impleaded in a case may participate in its litigation to protect a right that may be affected by the decision on the case. Whether or not a party may intervene is at the discretion of the court.
Earlier, a group of concerned citizens and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines also objected to the use of quo warranto proceedings to unseat Sereno, who is an impeachable public officer.
The group of concerned citizens led by running priest Robert Reyes on Thursday filed an intervention case with the Supreme Court seeking to dismiss the quo warranto petition.
The group warned that the use of quo warranto proceedings to unseat a public officer who has been functioning for a long time would disrupt public service.
“Impeachment is the only possible course of action prescribed by the 1987 Constitution that can be undertaken to unseat an impeachable officer like the chief justice,” the group said.
The petitioners added that Sereno’s appointment is valid considering the process that she went through including the screening of the Judicial and Bar Council, being shortlisted by the JBC and President Aquino’s decision to appoint her.
“Any other charges, such as the incomplete submission of Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN and her psychological tests can be best explained in the course of a full-blown impeachment trial now at the doorsteps of the Senate,” the group said.
The group also said a quo warranto petition under the Rules of Court may only be initiated within one year from the time that the public officer assumed office.
“The one-year period is designed to provide some stability in the discharge of public duties and the chief justice has been with the high court for more than four years. The use of quo warranto to unseat a public officer who has been functioning for a long time would certainly disrupt public service,” the group said.
Other petitioners include farmer leader Noland Penas, Mel Alonzo, former chief executive officer of the Pag-IBIG Fund; Rey Anne Librado, a masteral student at the University of the Philippines; Alice Gentolia Murphy, urban poor advocate and Mardi Suplido, a peace and human rights advocates. They are represented by lawyer Ibarra Gutierrez, former Akbayan representative.
A quo warranto proceeding is initiated to remove an unqualified official from his or her position as stated under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court.
Meanwhile, the IBP announced that it would ask the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition seeking to remove Sereno from her post.
The IBP said the correct way to remove a chief justice is through impeachment, not through a quo warranto petition.
“Entertaining the quo warranto petition on account of the Chief Justice’s supposed lack of integrity is tantamount to subjecting her to the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court,” the IBP said in a statement.
“Under the Constitution, the members of the Supreme Court may not be ordered dismissed by any government authority other than by the Senate after an impeachment proceeding,” the country’s mandatory lawyers organization added.
Sereno, who is currently on indefinite leave, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2012 by former President Benigno Aquino III following the ouster of chief magistrate Renato Corona, who was found guilty by the Senate impeachment court of misdeclaring his wealth.
Sereno, the country’s first female chief justice, was expected to stay in her post until her retirement at 70 in 2030.
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