SC sets for April 10 oral arguments on quo warranto plea vs. Sereno

MANILA The Supreme Court (SC) has set the oral arguments on the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) seeking to nullify the appointment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on April 10.

SC spokesman Theodore Te announced the directive during the summer session of the magistrates in Baguio City.

Te said the Court granted Sereno's motion for oral arguments.

The Petition for Quo Warranto be heard on oral argument on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 2 in the afternoon at the Supreme Court Session Hall in Baguio City, with an instruction to respondent Chief Justice for her to attend personally and answer questions from the Court En Banc, Te said after Tuesday's en banc.

Te also said the court denied petition filed by the Makabayan bloc consisting of party-list lawmakers led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and a group of private individuals led by running protest Fr. Robert Reyes seeking to intervene on the quo warranto petition.

However, the court noted the intervention petition filed by Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

In its petition, the IBP, through its president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, said Sereno could only be removed through impeachment as stated by the 1987 Constitution.

"[T]he Constitution admits of no other mode of removal of impeachable officers for impeachable offenses is clear from the text of Article XI, Section 2," the IBP petition said.

In a 34-page petition for quo warranto, Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the high court to declare Sereno's appointment on Aug. 24, 2012 as Chief Justice as void and oust her from the judiciary's top post.

The petition emanated from a letter filed by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari, urging Calida to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against the top magistrate.

Last Feb. 21, Mallari, who called Sereno a "de facto chief justice", asked the OSG to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against her.

Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto proceeding is an action by the government against a person who unlawfully holds a public office or holds a position where he or she is not qualified.

Calida insisted that a quo warranto proceeding is a "proper remedy to question the validity of Sereno's appointment."

Sereno has earlier asked the SC to dismiss the OSG's petition on technical grounds, particularly for lack of jurisdiction and violation of the one-year prescription period for the filing of such petitions.

She argued that the SC has no jurisdiction and authority to remove her from office because the 1987 Constitution provides that she could only be ousted by impeachment in Congress as she is an impeachable official.

Sereno, who is currently on indefinite leave, earlier said she is ready to face impeachment proceedings in the Senate anytime soon.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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