OUSTED CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse its landmark May 11 ruling which approved Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida’s quo warranto petition and voided her appointment as top magistrate.
According to Ms. Sereno’s 205-page motion for reconsideration, “the decision was rendered in violation of Respondent’s fundamental right to due process, and hence, is null and void.”
Citing bias from the court, Ms. Sereno said, “the six disqualified Justices ought to have inhibited themselves from hearing and deciding the case” as “there were compelling grounds to believe that they were not impartial.”
Ms. Sereno said the court denied her due process when it allowed Associate Justices Diosdado M. Peralta, Teresita L. De Castro, Francis H. Hardeleza, Noel G. Tijam, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Samuel R. Martires to hear her case despite showing apparent bias and prejudice for testifying against her before the House Committee on Justices.
“The existence of an impartial tribunal is a fundamental prerequisite upon which all other guarantees of due process rest…. Without an impartial and disinterested tribunal, the pledge of due process becomes a myth. The trial is reduced to nothing but a useless formality, an idle ceremony,” her petition read.
She pointed out: “This Honorable Court has required inhibition of trial court judges for far less reasons. Established jurisprudence on the inhibition of judges should be equally applied in this case.”
Ms. Sereno also argued “the Decision is contrary to the Constitution. This Honorable Court is without jurisdiction to oust an impeachable officer via quo warranto.”
“It has always been the rule that impeachable officers can be removed only by impeachment and not by any other means,” her petition read.
“The independence of the judiciary turns on this Court’s adherence to this rule. The proverbial path to perdition which the majority of this Court has taken that is paved mainly with the intention of removing the Chief Justice by any means, can lead only to the destruction of judicial independence and separation of powers,” it read further.
Mr. Calida, who faces a complaint at the Ombudsman claiming he still has a majority stake at a security agency with government contracts, questioned Ms. Sereno on her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth to the Judicial and Bar Council.
The court voted 8-6 in his favor and also directed Ms. Sereno to explain why she should not be punished for violating the court’s sub judice rule on her case.
Aside from the six justices Ms. Sereno asked to inhibit, those who concurred with the decision to grant the petition were Associate Justices Andres B. Reyes, Jr., and Alexander G. Gesmundo.
Those who dissented were Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., Mariano C. Del Castillo, Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, Marvic F. Leonen, and Alfredo S. Caguioa.
Several government officials criticized the decision, with 14 senators signing a resolution that urged the SC to review the decision.
Also on Wednesday, the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (CCPI) issued a statement saying, “the Constitution is clear in that the Chief Justice, and other named Constitutional Officials are to be ousted by an Impeachment process done by the House of Representatives and be convicted or exonerated only by the Senate.”
“We respectfully pray that the Impeachment process now ongoing be allowed to continue,” the statement read.
According to the CCPI, the decision “will have far reaching dangerous ramifications and ill effects on the economy and to the country.” — DAME