MANILA - Malacañang on Friday called on the public to respect the Supreme Court’s decision to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by granting a quo warranto petition filed by a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the high court is the “final arbiter of the law,” thus its decision must be respected.
“The High Court has spoken. Let us respect its decision granting the quo warranto petition as the proper remedy and the quo warranto petition ruling against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno,” Roque said in a statement.
“The Supreme Court, a co-equal branch of government, is duty-bound to uphold the Constitution. The court ruling is likewise an assertion of the supremacy of the fundamental law of the land.”
Malacañang has been seeking to distance itself and the President from the quo warranto proceedings at the high court, initiated by Solicitor General Jose Calida, and the impeachment complaint against Sereno at the House of Representatives.
Sereno had been questioning Duterte’s hand in the ouster attempts against her.
Duterte would later declare himself the chief magistrate’s “enemy,” asking the House to fast-track the impeachment process against her. This followed Sereno’s dare for him to admit his participation in the ouster moves against her.
The high court en banc voted 8-6 on Friday to grant Calida's petition and 9-5 in favor of the argument that it was the proper remedy.
Speaking to ANC on Friday, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo maintained that the President was not involved in Sereno's ouster.
"He never interfered with the judicial process. He has nothing to do with it," he said.
"No matter how much we disagree or agree on the decision, we have to accept it because the Constitution has precisely allocated that power to the Supreme Court," he added.
Calida's petition sought to nullify Sereno's appointment, saying she was "unlawfully holding" office due to her alleged failure to submit her required Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs) when she applied for her post.
Magistrates of the high court have also ordered the Judicial and Bar Council to begin the application and nomination process for Sereno's replacement.
"The position of the Chief Justice is declared vacant and the Judicial and Bar Council is directed to commence the application and nomination process," the dispositive portion of the court's ruling stated.
Sereno is expected to file a motion for reconsideration.
Sereno, the first woman to hold the top post in the judiciary, was supposed to stay in her post until her retirement at age 70 in 2030.