IBP urges SC to reverse its decision to oust Sereno
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has urged the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse its May 11 decision to oust chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
In its motion for reconsideration filed Monday, the IBP said the high court’s decision granting the quo warranto petition against Sereno “has taints of political consideration and personal biases.”
“With due respect, the Honorable Court should not have taken cognizance of the petition for quo warranto considering that the Honorable Court is not a trier of facts and the resolution of the question of whether or not Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno possessed the requisite integrity as provided by the 1987 Constitution involves a question of fact that requires a trial on merits,” the IBP stated in its motion.
It added that the high court’s decision departed from several of its previous ruling.
Quoting the 1988 case of Cuenvo vs. Fernan, the IBP said the SC ruled that “associate justices and the chief justice can only be removed by way of impeachment and removal by any other pretense would ‘circumvent’ and run afoul of the mandate of the Constitution.”
The IBP also noted the high court’s statement in another case that [the] removal [of a court official] through impeachment is a “fundamental procedural requirement that must be observed before such liability may be determined and enforced.”
“A member of the Supreme Court must first be removed from office via the constitutional route of impeachment under Sections 2 and 3 of Article XI of the 1987 Constitution,” the statement further stated.
The IBP pointed out that under the Constitution, the Senate has been given the power to try impeachment cases, a power which the SC should respect.
In the same motion, the IBP stressed that the high court erred when it made a factual determination of whether or not Sereno submitted her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) while she was in government service.
“The issue of whether respondent submitted her SALNs for the years that she has been in government service is undeniably a question of fact. It would require an examination of the evidence submitted by the parties and an evaluation of their respective probative value,” it explained.
The IBP noted that this is not the function of the high court, and it took on the rule of a trial court when it received evidence on the issue of Sereno’s alleged non-submission of her SALNs.
“What is worse, the Honorable Court failed to maintain the cold neutrality of an impartial judge when it engaged in its own evidence-gathering expedition and sought to supplement the evidence already on record,” the IBP added.
Moreover, the IBP said the SC even became an advocate and assisted Solicitor General Jose Calida in discharging the burden of proof when Supreme Court Justice Noel Tijam’s office sought a copy of the minutes of a meeting of the Judicial Bar Council’s (JBC) executive committee.
“To be sure, this not only constitutes an overstepping of the bounds of the Honorable Court’s jurisdiction, but likewise amounts to a derogation of respondent’s basic right to due process,” the IBP said. /ee
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