Saturday 15 December, 2018
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Sereno asks SC to junk quo warranto for lack of jurisdiction, merit

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Embattled Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on-leave asked the Supreme Court on Monday to junk for lack of jurisdiction and merit the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) questioning the validity of her appointment in 2012.

In a 77-page comment, Sereno said the SC has no authority to remove her from office via quo warranto because the text of the 1987 Constitution, the Constitutional Commission’s deliberations, and established jurisprudence stated that impeachable officials like her can be ousted “only by impeachment.”

She cited Section 2, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution which provides that impeachable officials, which include all members of the SC, may only be removed from office upon impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court.

Sereno said the high court “cannot take cognizance of or give due course to the [OSG petition] without running afoul of the plain dictates of the fundamental law and established judicial precedents.”

Sereno said the petition should be dismissed not only because of the Constitution and jurisprudence so demand, “but also because the Chief Justice deserves her day in court before the Senate sitting as an Impeachment Tribunal.”

“To rule otherwise, and to preempt the impeachment process by summarily ousting the Chief Justice via quo warranto, would be tantamount to overthrowing the Constitution itself,” Sereno stressed.

Besides, Sereno pointed out, the quo warranto petition of the OSG should not be entertained at all by the high court for being “time-barred.”

Section 11, Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, provides that a petition for quo warranto must be filed within one year from the “cause of ouster,” she said.

“There is no authority to commence a quo warranto proceeding more than four years after the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations,” she contended.

Sereno also assailed the OSG for its pretext that she flunked the test of integrity for her alleged failure to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) when she was law professor at the University of the Philippines prior to her appointment to the SC as associate justice in 2010.

She noted that her alleged non-filing of UP SALNs with the JBC were not included in the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon and she has not yet been given the opportunity to debunk these allegations.

Sereno asserted that she complied with the SALN law when she was a UP law professor and that she is ready to prove this in the Senate impeachment trial, which is the proper forum, “without prejudice to jurisdictional and relevance objections.”

She pointed out that contrary to the claims, it has not been proven that she failed to comply with the SALN laws while in UP, especially since she was cleared by UP of all administrative responsibilities and accountabilities as a member of its law faculty.

It was revealed during the impeachment hearings before the House Committee on Justice that the UP Human Resource Development Office (HRDO) issued a certificate of clearance to Sereno.

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