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Palace eases Leni’s fears

Over the use of Supreme Court ‘weapon’ that unseated Sereno

THE Palace said Tuesday it has no intention of removing Vice President Leni Robredo through a quo warranto petition after she expressed fears that the “weapon” used to oust Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno could be used against the administration’s political opponents.

SADISTIC SWORD. Like a sword of Damocles, in the view of some, hanging over the heads of government critics, this quo warranto cutlass, a legal proceeding to recover an office, franchise, or privilege from the person in possession, initiated as upon an information, instills fears despite Malacañang assurances it does not subscribe to the view this can be used against political opponents. Like a sword of Damocles, in the view of some, hanging over the heads of government critics, this quo warranto cutlass, a legal proceeding to recover an office, franchise, or privilege from the person in possession, initiated as upon an information, instills fears despite Malacañang assurances it does not subscribe to the view this can be used against political opponents.
In ousting Sereno 8-6, the Supreme Court noted that under the rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, a president and vice president may also be removed by a quo warranto petition filed by any registered voter on the grounds of ineligibility or disloyalty to the country within 10 days of their proclamation.

But Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the Palace does not subscribe to this view, and said Sereno was found ineligible to occupy the position of chief justice for lack of integrity because she did not submit the required Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth when she applied for the position in 2012.

Roque, however, said impeachable officials such as the president, vice president, members of constitutional commissions, members of the Supreme Court and the Ombdusman may be subject to a quo warranto action if they do not meet the requirements for their position.

“If there is a requirement that one should be a national born citizen and that is a requirement also for the Supreme Court, then if there are issues involving citizenship of a Supreme Court justice then it could be filed and questioned through a petition for quo warranto,” Roque said.

Citing the 1987 Constitution, Roque said the law allows the removal of an impeachable officer through other means, in this case, a quo warranto action.

Robredo said Tuesday she was not losing hope amid “dark times.”

Speaking at a forum at the University of Santo Tomas, Robredo highlighted the importance of empathy, and urged students to involve themselves in advocacy work, just like she did when she joined an advocacy group, Saligan, as a young lawyer.

“The Filipino touch is a touch of empathy, something that we desperately need these times,” she said.

She said she always advises her staff to stay from too much negativity because of what was happening around them, she called on the students to do the same thing, too.

“We are at the receiving end of so much viciousness,” she said.

Although the vice president spoke of dark times, she did not mention specifically Sereno’s ouster by a quo warranto petition.

Also on Tuesday, the Commission on Human Rights said the Constitution was clear: a sitting chief justice can only be removed through impeachment.

“We denounce the fact that this decision by the Supreme Court’s majority was made with justices who previously sat as accusers, a fundamental fairness issue that is expected most from the members of the highest court of our land. We decry that Congress was dispossessed of its exclusive power to decide whether an impeachable officer should be removed,” the commission said in a statement.

“This decision has diminished our democracy. It erodes our obedience to the rule of law and departs from the will of the Filipino people,” it added. 

Topics: Vice President Leni Robredo , quo warranto petition , Supreme Court , Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno , Presidential Electoral Tribunal
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