Chief Justice defends SQA order on Ombudsman impeachment
MANILA, Philippines—Chief Justice Renato Corona maintained that the status quo ante (SQA) that the Supreme Court issued almost six months ago stopping Congress from proceeding with the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was issued according to rules.
The SQA was criticized by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as having been issued hastily in favor of Gutierrez.
On Sept. 13, 2010, Gutierrez asked the high court to stop Congress from proceeding with the impeachment case against her. A day later, the high court issued an SQA order.
Corona, in an interview with reporters on Thursday at the Supreme Court’s Dignitaries Lounge, said he did not understand why the issue on the status quo ante order was being raised only now and used as a basis for filing an impeachment case against the Supreme Court justices.
“The Supreme Court is doing its job properly. There are people who are not happy with our decision, but the Supreme Court has insulated itself from the political process…. If they will force the Supreme Court to decide on what is popular, and if politicians force us to play the political game, that’s the end of democracy,” Corona said.
Eight justices voted for the issuance of the SQA order while Carpio, Sereno and Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales voted against it.
Corona said the explanation made by high court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez that a Chief Justice can issue a status quo ante, which is subject to confirmation by the other justices, was correct.
“As far as the status quo ante order is concerned, our rules allow the Chief Justice to issue that (SQA order, which is) for confirmation later on in an en banc session,” Corona said.
“You have to understand the nature of a status quo ante; it is not a decision. A decision needs all the justices to check every page of the pleadings. We don’t have to evaluate and study them. In an SQA, that is not its nature,” Corona added.
“The rules governing a decision will not apply in a status quo ante order. SQA means we want to study the case more thoroughly so that the existing state stays as is,” he explained.
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