IBP asks SC to reverse quo warranto ruling vs. Sereno

MANILA The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Monday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse its May 11 decision granting the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) which ousted Maria Lourdes Sereno from the Chief Justice post.

The lawyers' group, led by its national president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, filed a motion for reconsideration and sought reversal of the ruling even if it is not a party to the case as the High Court did not grant its earlier petition for intervention on the quo warranto case.

The IBP earlier filed a petition for intervention before the SC to oppose the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

But the SC only "noted" the petition without acting on it.

Opposition Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV, Makabayan bloc of party-list lawmakers led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and a group of private individuals led by running protest Fr. Robert Reyes also filed similar intervention petitions, but the Court did not act on them.

The IBP said the High Court erred when it concluded that it could inquire into the processes of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on the premise of its exercise of supervisory powers over the screening body for applicants to judiciary posts.

Citing jurisprudence, the IBP said any act of the high tribunal that preempts the exercise of constitutional jurisdiction by a constitutional court is "an utter excess of jurisdiction and therefore unconstitutional."

The IBP also said the SC "well-settled" not to be a trier of facts erred by making a factual determination of whether or not Sereno submitted her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) while she was in government service.

"In the instant case, the Honorable Court sidestepped this age-old rule and took on the role of a trial court, when it received evidence on the issue of respondents' alleged non-submission of her SALNs and engaged in an in-depth evaluation of such evidence on record," the IBP said.

It also supported Sereno's argument that the SC ruling violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers since it deprived Congress of its power to try Sereno as an impeachable official.

"The Senate, having been vested with the power to try impeachment cases by the Constitution itself, it behooves the Honorable Court to respect the Constitution's grant of jurisdiction and refrain from exercising a power clearly bestowed by the Constitution on another Tribunal or otherwise frustrating the exercise of such power by the Constitutional Tribunal," the IBP explained.

The IBP further accused the Court of also overstepping on the power of the Judicial and Bar Council to screen nominees for the judicial posts since the ruling effectively reviewed and voided the inclusion of Sereno in the shortlist.

Sereno already filed a motion for reconsideration and the High Court has ordered OSG to submit a comment before ruling on the case with finality.

In seeking the reversal of the Court's ruling, Sereno argued that the nullification of her appointment through the quo warranto petition is null and void as it was rendered in violation of her right to due process.

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 the separation of powers, read the 205-page motion for reconsideration last May 30.

That is a consequence, unintended as it may be, that the Respondent earnestly asks this Court to veer away from, she added.

Sereno said the six magistrates in the majority should recuse from the case. Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Lucas Bersamin and Samuel Martires should have not joined in the deliberation of the quo warranto petition for showing bias against her, Sereno said.

This is essentially a plea to the Honorable Court to do what is right and just. And the right and just thing to do, as dictated by the respondent's fundamental right to due process is to disqualify the six Honorable Justices, who had lost the impartiality to hear and decide this case, Sereno said.

She said the disqualification of the six magistrates is mandatory on the ground of actual bias based on their pronouncements made against her before the House of Representatives during its hearing on the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon.

Sereno said an impartial tribunal is an indispensable prerequisite of due process," reiterating that a Chief Justice can only be removed via impeachment proceedings as stated in the Constitution.

Voting 8-6, the SC granted the quo warranto petition to remove Sereno from office on the basis of a supposedly invalid appointment in 2012.

In its decision, the SC majority ruled that Sereno's failure to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) as law professor at the University of the Philippines would mean her integrity was not established at the time of her application, making her ineligible to hold her position.

However, Sereno said the majority violated her constitutional right to due process when it ignored evidence that she had filed her UP SALNs.

Apart from Sereno's ouster, the SC also issued a show cause order requiring her to explain why she should not be penalized for supposedly violating Code of Professional Responsibility and Code of Judicial Conduct "for transgressing the sub juice rule and for casting aspersions and ill motives to the members of the Supreme Court." (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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