Speaker dismisses opposition call for 7 SC justices to inhibit selves
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday dismissed the call for seven Supreme Court justices to inhibit themselves from the deliberations on a quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno due to their “antagonism” toward her.
Alvarez argued that the magistrates were just doing their job. “Besides, there are no personal interests involved here.”
The Speaker said the Supreme Court had the power to decide whether Sereno’s appointment was legitimate.
Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the quo warranto petition in the Supreme Court on Monday, alleging that Sereno was unlawfully holding the position.
Calida claimed that Sereno’s appointment in 2012 was void from the start because she did not comply with the requirement of submitting her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth for the previous 10 years before she applied for the top post in the judiciary.
Shortly after Calida filed the petition, the so-called Magnificent Seven opposition bloc asked the seven magistrates, including six who testified during the impeachment hearing against Sereno in the House, to recuse themselves from ruling on the petition.
The House group reiterated its call on Tuesday, noting that the seven justices had “figured prominently in the ouster move against Sereno, which ended in forcing her to go on an indefinite leave.”
The opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman did not name the seven in the statement, but the associate justices who appeared in the House hearing were Teresita de Castro, Samuel Martires, Mariano del Castillo, Andres Reyes, Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta.
Insider reports about the full-court proceedings last week said the group had pressured Sereno into quitting or going on leave. Sereno then announced she was taking an indefinite leave.
“These seven justices cannot be impartial jurists because of their manifest antagonism against the chief magistrate,” Lagman said.
“Under these adverse circumstances, due discretion on the part of the affected justices as well as the Rules of Court and Code of Judicial Ethics demand their inhibition,” he added.
Lagman said the seven justices must not be allowed to seize the opportunity presented by the pending quo warranto petition to consummate their design to oust the Chief Justice.
Asked how he thought the Supreme Court would rule on the quo warranto petition, Alvarez replied: “I don’t know. Anything can happen.”
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