Group accuses 5 SC justices of violating rights of Sereno
A multi-sectoral alliance on Thursday said the refusal of the five Supreme Court (SC) justices to recuse from the quo warranto case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is a “clear repudiation of due process, established jurisprudence and the Code of Judicial Conduct.”
“This is an outright violation of her (Sereno’s) constitutional right to due process, as well as a brazen and disdainful rejection of jurisprudence and the Code of Judicial Conduct which stated that justices and judges must inhibit if they cannot be impartial,” Coalition for Justice (CFJ) said in a statement.
CFJ is a broad multisectoral alliance composed of civic, faith-based, and political groups that have committed to support the Chief Justice.
The group is referring to Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam, all of whom Sereno wanted to inhibit from the case but her separate motions have been denied.
CFJ, in its statement cited at least two landmark SC rulings—Gutierrez v Santos and Geotina v. Gonzales—in which the high court held that “due process of law requires a hearing before an impartial and disinterested tribunal, and that every litigant is entitled to nothing less than a cold neutrality of an impartial judge.”
It added that Section 1, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Independence mandates judges to “perform their judicial duties without favor, bias or perjudice.”
Canon 3 declares that impartiality is essential to the proper discharge of the judicial office and to the process by which the decision is made.
Moreover, Section 7(3), Article III of the Constitution requires the members of the judiciary to be persons of “proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.”
“Laymen understand the fundamental tenets of fair play that support these principles. We expect the learned Justices of the Supreme Court to surpass our meager appreciation and apply them,” the CFJ stressed.
“Yet, the [five justices] refused. We cannot impute this to ignorance of the law—which in any case, is no excuse—but to their cavalier attitude of being above the law. This is a position we cannot tolerate,” it added. /jpv
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