Independence of judiciary at stake in Calida’s ouster plea —Sereno camp
The independence of the judiciary was at stake should the ouster plea of Solicitor General Jose Calida prosper in the Supreme Court (SC), the camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno warned on Tuesday.
Sereno’s chief legal counsel, lawyer Alex Poblador, said that Calida’s petition may set a “dangerous precedent” against public policy that preserves constitutional procedure, judicial independence and separation of powers.
“It is not difficult to see that allowing the Solicitor General to remove a sitting justice by quo warranto will set a dangerous precedent that will destroy this public policy,” Poblador told SC justices during oral arguments at the SC compound in Baguio City.
“If allowed to do so, what will stop the Solicitor General from filing similar petitions against any sitting Justice, based on any offense, whether impeachable or not, on the theory that such offense can somehow reflect on his integrity and probity?” he asked.
Citing the Constitution, Poblador stressed that impeachable officials, including high court magistrates, could only be removed through impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate.
“What was designed as a procedure to remove impeachable officers that would be used sparingly only by Congress, because it is so difficult and cumbersome to undertake, can now be undertaken before this Court, the Court of Appeals or even the Regional Trial Court, by the Solicitor General at any time,” Poblador said.
“How can the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers survive?” he asked.
Likewise, Sereno’s chief legal counsel said that Calida was only building a new road to remove the Chief Magistrate from office.
“There is only one road before this Court, and that is the one it had set in a line of cases. An impeachable officer like the Chief Justice cannot be removed except by impeachment, which means that she cannot be removed by any other method,” Poblador stressed.
“What he (Calida) actually proposes to do is to build a new one, one that lies, however, on a slippery slope because it will set a dangerous precedent and destroy the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers,” he added. /jpv
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