Powerhouse plea: 130 law school deans, profs urge SC to junk quo warranto case

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Some 130 deans and professors of various law schools in the country have expressed deep concern over the attempt to oust Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno via quo warranto.

In a manifesto, they stressed such extrajudicial process to oust Sereno could potentially face other justices, and endanger judicial independence.

Instead, the deans and professors were pushing for the trial Sereno in the Senate impeachment court.

“We, members of the law faculties, express our deep concern at the move to unseat the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by means other than by impeachment,” said in a manifesto entitled “A Call for Adherence to Constitutional Process” signed by more than 130 law school deans and professors.

“We are not questioning the motivation, integrity and patriotism of anyone involved in this process but we must remind them that the integrity of the process is as important as its result,” added in the manifesto that was published in a newspaper on Thursday.

The signatories include former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) Graduate School of Law Dean and retired Court of Appeals Justice Hector Hofileña, De La Salle College of Law Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, Lyceum College of Law Dean Maria Soledad Derequito-Mawis, Adamson College of Law Dean Anna Maria Abad, Far Eastern University Institute of Law Dean Melencio Sta. Maria, and Ateneo de Davao University College of Law Dean Manuel Quibod.

Former University of the Philippines College of Law Dean Pacifico Agabin, former Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony Laviña, PLM College of Law Dean Marisol Anenias, University of San Agustin College of Law Dean Jose Mari Tirol, and law deans and professors from Metro Manila and the cities of Baguio, Butuan, Cotabato and Davao also signed the manifesto.

According to the signatories, they have been taught in the College of Law that the Constitution provides only one means to remove a sitting Chief Justice and that is by impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction after trial in the Senate.

“Any other means would be unconstitutional,” they pointed out. “It will expose those involved in the same vicious cycle of extrajudicial removal process which will subvert the constitutional check and balance and endanger judicial independence.”

As such, the signatories called for the start of Sereno’s impeachment trial in the Senate, where she finally gets the chance to defend herself from the allegations against her.

“Let the impeachment of the Chief Justice take its course as the Constitution dictates. Let the trial in the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, begin. Allow the Chief Justice to defend herself in the impeachment trial,” they said.

They also asked the senators to be conscious of the far reaching implication of their decision in the coming trial. “It will become a precedent of how impeachment will be wielded against sitting Justices of the Supreme Court and members of critical constitutional bodies, and even the President of the Philippines.”

The signatories also reminded those involved in the impeachment process about the advice of the late SC Justice Jose Benedicto Luna Reyes, the great civil libertarian and defender of people’s rights during the Marcos regime: “No Master but law; No Guide but Conscience: No Aim but Justice.”

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