By now, you may have read already several analytical or explanatory discussions on the quo warranto proceeding filed against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno. Many have argued that a sitting Chief Justice can only be removed from office by way of impeachment, while the rest opine that quo warranto may be used to unseat even the highest official of the Supreme Court.
Among those who strongly oppose the quo warranto case is the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), of which I am a member and currently the president of its local chapter in Albay. I commend the IBP for opposing the petition for quo warranto. I admire its National Officers for voicing out their opinion even though they have to tread a path that is rough and risky. After all, it is the solemn duty of this organization to uphold the Constitution and safeguard the administration of justice.
But while I agree with the IBP in most of the legal points it raised in opposing the quo warranto, I hold a different view as regards the propriety of removing a Chief Justice via a quo warranto proceeding. My personal evaluation of the remedy of quo warranto leads me to conclude that it can be used against the Chief Justice or any public officer for that matter. I see nothing wrong with quo warranto for as long as it is used as a legal tool to prevent a person from usurping public office, it being paramount that only those who possess the qualifications set by the Constitution or by law should be allowed to hold public office. Undeniably, if we were to exclude now the impeachable officers from the ambit of quo warranto, there would be no more remedy in the future against the subsequent appointment of a Chief Justice who is incompetent and lacking in integrity, probity and independence.
However, I hasten to add that when this remedy is exercised for the wrong reason, being uncunningly or sinisterly used to tilt the balance of our tripartite government, quo warranto becomes an instrument of iniquity and injustice. I cannot understand how Chief Justice Sereno, after so many years in the service, was adjudged to be lacking in integrity when the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) itself had shortlisted her not only once, but twice – with the first culminating in her appointment as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and the second paving the way to her appointment as the Chief Magistrate. This leads me to think who really is behind the move to oust the Chief Justice.
Although the Supreme Court had already spoken by granting the petition for quo warranto filed by the Solicitor General, all hope is not lost for those who oppose the quo warranto. The losing parties are still given one last opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the decision of the Supreme Court, including the IBP which has already made known its intention of filing a motion for reconsideration. And while they are preparing their motion, let us also do our part. Let us join our bishops and priests; let us raise our hands and storm the heavens, on Serreno with our prayers.
Now that Chief Justice Serreno has been asked BY WHAT AUTHORITY she is holding her position, maybe it’s time to ask this question to the proponent of the quo warranto: BY WHOSE AUTHORITY?