SolGen asks SC to uphold its ruling on quo warranto, deny Sereno's appeal for reconsideration - The Daily Sentry

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

SolGen asks SC to uphold its ruling on quo warranto, deny Sereno's appeal for reconsideration

photo from Google (ctto)

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has just filed its comment as requested by the Supreme Court regarding its ruling on the quo warranto petition that ousted former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The OSG, in a 70-page comment asked the Supreme Court to uphold its decision granting the quo warrant petition and deny Sereno’s motion for reconsideration.

On its comment, the OSG argued the importance of the “Constitutional and statutory” obligation for government employees or public servants to file SALNS.

The OSG also highlighted a case back in 1997 of a court interpreter of a regional trial court in Davao that got dismissed by the SC en banc and her retirement benefits forfeited due to her failure to disclose in her SALN that she has a stall in the public market.

The said court employee was also ordered barred from reemployment in any government offices, including government-owned corporations.

The OSG reiterated that the SC did not intrude in the powers of the legislative department for granting the quo warranto petition against the former chief justice.

"When the Court took cognizance of the quo warranto petition, it was merely exercising the power allocated to it. It was settling a legal controversy. A quo warranto is an action against the usurpation of a public office or position, which is under the court's jurisdiction. Therefore, the Court correctly ruled that its assumption of jurisdiction over the present action for quo warranto is not violative of separation of powers." It reads.

Further, the Solicitor’s office stressed that Sereno’s lack of integrity is not a political issue and that one year bar rule to file quo warranto petition does not apply to the case of the former chief magistrate.*

"Since the present case deals with the eligibility of respondent to hold the highest position in the judiciary, it is one of transcendental importance. It involves public interest. In not strictly applying the statute of limitations, the Court considered that respondent was never forthright concerning her SALNs while she was employed at UP as a university professor. She deliberately glossed over the defect in her appointment." OSG said.

“A dispassionate examination of the 1987 Constitution will dispel the fallacies of argument mounted against the removal, through a quo warranto proceeding, of impeachable officers like [Sereno]. There is no denying that Section 5(1), Article VIII of the Constitution grants the Court (SC) original jurisdiction over quo warranto petitions.” It added.

“The subject matter of the quo warranto petition before the [SC] is [Sereno’s] ineligibility to be appointed Chief Justice. It does not revolve on any impeachable offense that she may have committed. Assuming that the articles of impeachment will be submitted to the Senate, that body is not authorized to resolve the issue of [her]ineligibility because it is not an impeachable offense,” the Office of the Solicitor General further explained.

The OSG cited the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Philippine Constitutions on their respective provisions on impeachment, pointing out that in 1935 and 1973 versions, “shall” and “only” were used to refer to the use of the impeachment way to remove a President, Vice-President, Justices of the SC, and members of the constitutional commissions. *

The top government counsel explained that in 1987 Constitution the use of “may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of,…” is interpreted as merely permissive and conferring discretion but not “as having a mandatory effect”.

The OSG clarifies that quo warranto proceeding is a distinct remedy for impeachment “since in the former no title was vested to her and remains a de facto public officer while in impeachment-- it is a removal of a qualified public officer.

"It is therefore in a quo warranto proceeding that the subject public officer is considered as having acted in a de facto capacity. This is not true for a public officer facing an impeachment trial. Necesarrily, that public officer is considered de jure because the validity of his of her appointment is not in question." The OSG noted.

In Sereno’s appeal, she mentioned that the six magistrates; Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Lucas Bersamin and Samuel Martires should have not joined the deliberation for showing bias against her.

But OSG countered that Sereno’s claim were all “speculation and surmise” as she has no clear and convincing evidence to show that these magistrates were indeed bias.

Once comments from OSG is submitted, the court is expected to decide on Sereno’s motion for reconsideration – which is within this month.

Source: PNA