MANILA – Saying they have shown “hostility” against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by attempting to unseat her, the seven Supreme Court Associate Justices who insisted on having her go on leave should inhibit themselves from the judgment of the quo warranto petition filed against the chief magistrate, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said Monday.
“The seven associate justices who unconstitutionally attempted to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno must recuse themselves or inhibit from the adjudication of the quo warranto petition which is expected to be filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida questioning the validity of Sereno’s appointment,” he said in a statement.
The quo warranto petition, filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, will question Sereno’s appointment to the high court amid her alleged lack of Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).
Quo warranto is a legal term for a writ (order) used to challenge another’s right to either public or corporate office, or challenge the legality of a corporation’s charter.
The missing SALNs were raised during the impeachment proceedings on determination of probable cause in the complaint against Sereno at the House of Representatives.
In his statement, Lagman accused Calida of “purposely choosing to file the petition before the Supreme Court, which has become a hostile forum against Sereno, even as the one-year period within which to file the action has prescribed five years ago pursuant to Section 11 of Rule 66 of the Rules of Court.”
Lagman said the Solicitor General can also file the petition in the Court of Appeals or in a Regional Trial Court in the City of Manila.
Lagman said the appointment of Sereno complied with the basic requirements of the Constitution and no less than the Judicial and Bar Council endorsed her appointment to then President Benigno Aquino III.
“An appointment enjoys the presumption of validity and a proffered argument that it is void ab initio is not favored.”
The senior lawmaker said that after their “conspiracy to unseat Sereno failed,” the seven justices succeeded in compelling Sereno to file an indefinite leave, “which has no constitutional or legal anchorage.”
“The quo warranto petition gives the subject seven justices the opportunity to pursue their scheme in removing the chief magistrate without waiting for the constitutional process of a Senate impeachment trial,” he said.
“The quo warranto petition inveigles the Supreme Court to violate the Constitution by usurping the power of the House of Representatives to impeach the Chief Justice and the jurisdiction of the Senate to try and judge her,” he added.