Hontiveros : Sereno’s ouster a ‘stab to Constitution’s heart’
The Supreme Court’s decision to grant the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is “a direct stab to the heart of our Constitution,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said.
In a statement after Sereno was ousted by her peers in the SC, the opposition senator said the move has paved a way for the removal of other impeachable officials through offhand or capricious ways.
“The Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for the removal in the future of other impeachable public officials through arbitrary means and for whimsical reasons,” Hontiveros said.
SC associate justices voted 8-6 in favor of Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition that paved the way for the ouster of Sereno when under the Philippine Constitution, a Chief Justice can be removed only through an impeachment proceeding.
The senator further added that the allowing the removal of the highest judiciary official though means other than impeachment is a slap in the face of the Senate.
“The Constitution is clear. The best way to hold accountable and remove impeachable high-ranking government officials is through the process of impeachment in which the Senate is convened as an impeachment court,” Hontiveros said.
“With this decision, the Senate is robbed of that power and denied the obligation to fulfill its constitutional duty,” she added.
Saying that the SC has “fallen hard in the eyes of the public,” Hontiveros said, “the Justices’ failure to rise above their personal issues has paved the way for the rise of a black dawn in the judiciary.”
“This is a black day for justice and the rule of law. By giving its nod to an obviously unconstitutional petition, the high tribunal has surrendered its judicial independence and integrity to the whims of President [Rodrigo] Duterte, and subverted altogether our constitutional process of impeachment,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros called on the public to continue guarding the democratic functions of the country.
“Only by ensuring the integrity and independence of our democratic institutions and strengthening our assaulted culture of democracy can we guard the people’s liberty and preserve our democracy from tyrannical attempts to consolidate power for narrow ends,” she said. /vvp