‘Magnificent 7’ to 8 SC justices: Recant quo warranto decision or face impeach raps
If the eight Supreme Court (SC) justices who ousted former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno “insist and persist on their unwarranted and unconstitutional decision,” the House Magnificent 7 opposition bloc would proceed with its “crusade” and file impeachment cases against each of them, the group’s leader, Rep. Edcel Lagman, declared on Tuesday.
“If they (eight justices) recant and reconsider then it is no problem. But if they insist and persist on their unwarranted and unconstitutional decision, then we are going to file the impeachment cases,” Lagman said in a press briefing.
Lagman said they would not be “overwhelmed” given that the majority of the House justice committee voted to impeach Sereno.
“We should not be overwhelmed by numbers because we have a crusade to undertake and we hope the media and people would help us,” he said.
Lagman said Representatives Tom Villarin, Edgar Erice, Gary Alejano, Teddy Baguilat and Emmanuel Billones would support the group’s move.
‘Impeachment complaint sufficient in form and substance’
Lagman confidently said that the impeachment complaint that they are going to file against each of the eight SC justices would be sufficient in form and substance, hence the committee on justice “will be constrained to conduct deliberations into this.”
He said Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo committed culpable violations of the Constitution when they granted the quo warranto petition lodged by the Office of the Solicitor General versus Sereno.
Specifically, the group said the eight Justices are liable for culpable violations of the Constitution because:
- They arrogated the power and jurisdiction of the Congress to impeach the Chief Justice as provided for in the aforesaid Sections 2, 3(1) and 3(6) of Article XI of the Constitution; and
- They repudiated the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for the appointment by the President of Chief Justice Sereno which is the sole prerogative of the JBC under Section 8(5) of Article VIII of the Constitution which expressly provides that the JBC “shall have the principal function of recommending appointees to the Judiciary.”
According to the group, the eight Justices also committed betrayal of public trust because:
- With respect to Justices De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Jardeleza and Tijam, they refused to inhibit themselves from participating in the deliberation and adjudication of the quo warranto petition against Sereno despite the fact that they have publicly expressed their bias against her when they testified for her impeachment before the House Committee on Justice;
- Their partiality and bias are repugnant to the high standards of judicial impartiality and judiciousness which they themselves recently reiterated in dismissing Judge Winlove Dumayas of the Makati City Regional Trial Court when they ruled that judges and magistrates “must not only be impartial but also must appear to be impartial”; and
- All of the eight Justices, despite their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, subverted the fundamental law by utterly disregarding the clear provisions of the Constitution, thus abandoning the public trust reposed on them.
Lagman said they are poised to file the complaint most probably by the second week or the end of the second week of June, depending on whether or not the justices would reconsider their decision.
When asked if this move by the group may open floodgates of impeachment cases against the SC justices whose decisions are in question, Lagman cited that they have opposed some of SC’s decision before but did not opt to file an impeachment case.
“Let me tell you, we objected the decision of the Supreme Court when they allowed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. We also rejected the decision of the SC when they sustained the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and its extension, but we never said that we’re going to file an impeachment case against those whose decision we opposed,” Lagman noted.
“So it is not true that just because we did not favor the decision then we can opt for an impeachment. But in this case, it is very patent that the decision was unconstitutional,” he added. /je
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