National lawyers’ group appeals SC ruling ousting Sereno via quo warranto

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has filed a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court on its decision to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno via quo warranto, saying that removing her in this manner is as good as destroying the rule of law.

“The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, through its Board of Governors, filed a motion for reconsideration of the Supreme Court decision in Republic vs Sereno today. With due respect to the High Court, we maintain that its ruling in Republic vs Sereno was narrowly drawn. It shows the use of the law to pursue a desired result, that is, the ouster of the Chief Justice,” the IBP said in a statement signed by IBP President Abdiel Fajardo.

“This erodes, if not demolishes, the rule of law by which all members of the Bar have sworn as a condition to admission,” the IBP said.

It was Solicitor General Jose Calida who filed the quo warranto petition against Sereno, arguing that her appointment as chief justice in 2012 was invalid because she failed to submit all the copies of her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) as a professor of the UP College of Law to the Judicial and Bar Council, which screens applicants for the chief justice post.

The high court granted Calida’s quo warranto petition in a vote of 8-6.

Sereno’s ouster via quo warranto preempted the impeachment proceedings against her at the House of Representatives.

The impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon against Sereno accused her betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for:

1. Failure to submit statements of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALNs to the JBC and to declare properties in Bataan and Davao City;

2. Misuse of P18 million in public funds in the purchase of a bulletproof Toyota Land Cruiser, hiring of information technology consultant Helen Macasaet and selection of the Shangri-La Boracay resort for the 3rd Asean Chief Justices’ meeting;

3. Usurping the authority of the Supreme Court as a collegial body by forming a Regional Office of Court Administrator, issuing a temporary restraining order on the case of Coalition of Senior Citizens party-list and transferring the Maute cases from Marawi to Taguig City without en banc or full-court approval;

4. Abusing her position as ex-officio chairperson of the JBC by excluding the name of then Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza from consideration for the post of associate justice;

5. Interference in the inquiry by the House on the alleged misuse of P66 million in tobacco funds by Ilocos Norte government employees because of a Court of Appeals stay order on the House investigation and undermining its justice panel’s impeachment proceedings, and;

6. Abuse of discretionary power.

Under the Constitution, the President, the Vice-President, the members of the Supreme Court, the members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.

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