Quo warranto vs. elected impeachable official allowed – SC
Granting a quo warranto petition, the mode used to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, can also be used against an “invalidly elected impeachable official,” according to the Supreme Court.
Section 2 Article XI of the Constitution provides that “the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office” by impeachment.
But impeachment is not the only way to remove some government officials from office, according to the 153-page decision disqualifying Sereno as chief justice, which was made public Friday evening.
The six justices who dissented from the majority ruling, as well as other lawyers and law organizations, insist that impeachment is the only way to oust the officials enumerated in Section 2 Article XI of the Constitution.
But in its main decision, the SC explained that the provision used the word “may” to indicate that impeachment is not the only method.
“We have consistently held that the term ‘may’ is indicative of a mere possibility, an opportunity or an option… An option to remove by impeachment admits of an alternative mode of effecting the removal,” the high court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam.
The high court noted that even the rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) allow a petition for quo warranto to question the eligibility of the President and the Vice President, both impeachable officials.
The SC said the result of the elections must truly reflect the true choice of the people. If they will prohibit a quo warranto proceeding against an impeachable elected official, they may have in effect clipped their own power and turned a blind eye to fraud and election irregularities.
The PET decides election protests involving the election of the President or the Vice President of the Philippines. It is composed of the justices of the Supreme Court. It is currently conducting a manual recount and revision of ballots for the protest filed by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.
“To subscribe to the view that appointments or election of impeachable officers are outside judicial review is to cleanse their appointments or election of any possible defect pertaining to the Constitutionally-prescribed qualifications which cannot otherwise be raised in an impeachment proceeding,” the high court added. /atm
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