Makabayan bloc wants to intervene in 'quo warranto' plea vs Sereno

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2018 01:37 PM | Updated as of Mar 22 2018 02:44 PM

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno attends the "Women and Justice Forum" at the St. Scholastica's Institute for Women's Studies in Manila, December 7, 2017. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - (UPDATE) A group of left-leaning members of the House of Representatives is seeking inclusion in the Supreme Court's proceedings on a petition to nullify Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's appointment.

Makabayan bloc lawmakers on Thursday led other individuals in filing an opposition-in-intervention petition to the "quo warranto" plea earlier filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Sereno, who is facing a separate impeachment case.

Calida had sought Sereno's removal through a "quo warranto" petition before the Supreme Court, citing her alleged failure to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) over a 10-year period when she applied for the top magistrate post in 2012.

Among the expected intervenors are former Sen. Rene Saguisag, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr., Bishop Broderick Pabillo, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Secretary General Ephraim Cortez, and the convenors and members of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT).

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said Calida's petition is "wrong and unconstitutional" since the top magistrate could only be removed through impeachment.

"We [filed an] opposition-in-intervention [petition] to the quo warranto petition filed by the OSG against Sereno so that we could be included in the proceedings and support the Chief Justice from the quo warranto case filed against her," Tinio said. 

"Also, removing the Chief Justice through the courts and by her own peers threatens judicial independence and separation of powers," Tinio added.


Lawyer Larry Gadon, who filed the impeachment case against Sereno, slammed the group's bid to intervene in the quo warranto. 

"Wala silang legal personality to file that pleading... Remember this is the state who is a party to this case and the respondent is CJ Sereno," Gadon said. 

"Siguro gusto lang nila sumakay sa isyu. Ang dami sumasakay sa issue ng impeachment." 

(They don't have any legal personality to file that pleading. Remember this is the state who is a party to this case and the respondent is CJ Sereno. Perhaps they just want to ride the issue. Many people are riding this impeachment issue.) 

The chief magistrate, currently on indefinite leave from the High Court, had sought the dismissal of Calida's petition “for lack of jurisdiction and merit.” She said she could be removed only through impeachment.

Sereno is facing impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives, initiated by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who accused her of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes. 

Earlier this month, she went on indefinite leave as she prepared for a possible impeachment trial at the Senate.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, meanwhile, said the filing of the quo warranto case against Sereno sets a "very dangerous and ruinous precedent." 

"[It] can even be used against any impeachable officer, including other justices of the Supreme Court who go against the wishes of and in the crosshairs of the administration or interest groups," he said.

"As it is, the quo warranto case is wrong and unconstitutional because it robs the Filipino people the means to properly hear and judge the side of CJ Sereno through a trial at the Senate seating as an impeachment court," he added.