Law profs, deans: Ousting Sereno not by impeachment is ‘unconstitutional’
With the Supreme Court set to rule on the quo warrants petition filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, deans and professors of various law schools have expressed concerns over the process, saying that the Chief Justice can only be removed from office by impeachment.
“Any other means would be unconstitutional,” more than 130 law faculty members said on Thursday through a manifesto entitled “A Call for Adherence to Constitutional Process.
“It will expose those involved in the same vicious cycle of extrajudicial removal process which will subvert the constitutional check and balance and endanger judicial independence,” they added.
The manifesto was signed by more than 130 deans and professors, including Deans Hector Hofileña of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) Graduate School of Law; Jose Manuel Diokno of De La Salle College of Law; Maria Soledad Derequito-Mawis of Lyceum College of Law; Anna Maria Abad of Adamson College of Law; Melencio Sta. Maria of Far Eastern University Institute of Law; and Manuel Quibod of Ateneo de Davao University College of Law.
They claimed that law schools have always taught that a chief justice can only be removed from office through impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
“We are not questioning the motivation, integrity and patriotism of anyone involved in this process but we must remind them that the integrity of the process is as important as its result,” the manifesto added.
Other signatories include former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, University of the Philippines College of Law Dean Pacifico Agabin, former Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony Laviña, PLM College of Law Dean Marisol Anenias, University of San Agustin College of Law Dean Jose Mari Tirol, and other faculty members from Metro Manila and the cities of Baguio, Butuan, Cotabato, and Davao.
“Let the impeachment of the Chief Justice take its course as the Constitution dictates. Let the trial in the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, begin. Allow the Chief Justice to defend herself in the impeachment trial,” the signatories said.
In this regard, they called on senators to be conscious of the possible implications of their decisions in the impeachment trial.
“It will become a precedent of how impeachment will be wielded against sitting Justices of the Supreme Court and members of critical constitutional bodies, and even the President of the Philippines,” the signatories added. /muf
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