Ex-SC justice Mendoza: Removing Sereno via quo warranto will hurt judiciary
A former Supreme Court justice on Monday warned that allowing a quo warranto case against Chief Justice on-leave Ma. Lourdes Sereno to prosper would undermine not only the right of SC justices to security of tenure but also the independence of the judiciary.
Retired SC Justice Vicente Mendoza pointed out that the Court’s own internal rules prohibit the granting of quo warranto petition against any of its members more than one year after assumption of office.
“A quo warranto proceeding filed against a member of the court or any impeachable officer for that matter filed more than a year after assumption of office will undermine the security of tenure guaranteed by the Constitution to public officers who are simply removable by impeachment and ultimately subvert the independence of the judiciary,” Mendoza said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
Mendoza said incumbent SC justices are certainly aware of the prohibition provided under Rule 66, Section 11 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
The rule states that: “Nothing contained in this Rule shall be construed to authorize an action against a public officer or employee for his ouster from office unless the same be commenced within one year after the cause of such ouster, or the right of the petitioner to hold such office or position arose.”
In Sereno’s case, she has been Chief Justice for almost six years since her appointment in August 2012. If the Rules of Court is to be followed, the filing of quo warranto against her already lapsed in August 2013 or one year after she assumed office.
“I do not want to think that it (SC) will not follow its own rules. I want to think the court will be aware not only of the Rules of Court, but also of its previous decisions,” Mendoza said.
“You cannot bring a suit for quo warrant to test the validity of the title or right of a person who is impeachable by quo warranto—except by impeachment,” he added.
Also, Mendoza said that statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) is not the sole basis in gauging integrity of candidates for vacant judicial posts.
In fact, Mendoza said the filing of SALN was not among the requirements for those applying for the position of Chief Justice.
“The SALN is not a requirement of any law or rule of the JBC. The SALN as it is called is simply one of the bases for determining integrity as one of those intangible qualities required by the Constitution to be possessed by members of the high tribunal,” Mendoza noted.
“Being one of the intangible minds and character, it (integrity) is not measurable by anything like age, citizenship or length of service in government or membership in the Bar