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Rectifying errors

The ouster of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is a continuation of the tremors that rocked our judicial system since the pretending-to-be-honest regime initiated an action to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona, Jr. Instability from thereon continued because those sitting members of the Senate impeachment court are now looking forward to getting the monetary reward in their hypocritical dispensation of justice.

If the Yellows bigots and their misguided supporters from the militant left and from the Catholic Church are now loudly denouncing the decision as “brazen,” this column is reminding them that they are just reaping the bitter fruit they planted. While some would insist that there was a color of political vengeance, all point to them as the progenitor of that malevolent legal process.

They insist that impeachment should have been applied because that is what is provided in the Constitution. But the petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida is even more civil and magnanimous. He is practically saying that the Chief Justice is simply not qualified to hold that office. Her act of usurpation and misrepresentation only becomes a violation if she and/or the President appointed her knowing she is not qualified for the office.

The problem is that the highly partisan followers of the previous administration refuse to accept that all other public officers can be removed from office for violation of the law. Sections 2, Article XI of the Constitution simply enumerate those public officials who can be removed by impeachment. They are the President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman if they commit a culpable violation of the constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust. All other public officers may be removed from public office as provided by law.

Impeachment should not be interpreted as a limitation to any judicial action. Rather, we have to interpret and harmonize the laws with other laws to obtain the best method of interpretation or in Latin, “Inrterpretare et concordare legis legisbus est optimus interpretandi.” To limit our interpretation is to place them above the law which our people will never concede.

Everybody knows that many senators, with some even openly admitting, voted after receiving bribe money just to make their hypocritical democracy work. To soothe public anger, they contend that impeachment process is political in nature, and Corona was voted out of office not on the basis of the evidence presented but on the amount of grease money.

The hypocrites called the decision a legacy of Cory Aquino. For that, the government had to cough up more than P500 million in taxpayer’s money to reward the members of the Senate Impeachment Court, and satisfy PNoy’s lust for vengeance for ordering the distribution of the land owned by country’s biggest landlord and godfather of the ousted Chief Justice.

It is not for this column to judge the ouster of the chief justice because the petition for quo warranto presupposes she never committed any violation. This is possible because theoretically, she never legally assumed her position. In an impeachment proceeding, Sereno, by prima facie evidence, violated one of the enumerated culpability in the Constitution. In quo warranto proceeding, all the evidence that may be presented against her pertains exclusively to her being not qualified for the office.

But if the High Court and the Solicitor General find evidence that she committed acts to falsity her qualification like what Associate Justice Teresita de Castro is now saying, that will however not prevent the People from filing criminal charges against her for every specific act she violated. The ugly portion is that the evidence maybe accepted without qualification much that they have already been authenticated by the same court that sustained her removal.

Sereno and her appointing power should have also considered the issue of judicial delicadeza. Everybody knows her appointment was forcefully rammed into the throat of the JBC to shield B.S Aquino from all possible charges of malfeasance while in office. To make sure it could not happen, Sereno was appointed chief justice bypassing many senior justices.

This means that for the entire years that Duterte would serve as President, Sereno would act as sentry dog to make sure no charges or petitions will be filed against her power broker. This has alienated many of her colleagues for the fact that she never served as judge in the lower courts nor has penned any decision one could use as reference that indeed she has the legal mind worthy of being the chief justice. Alas, she has none of that.

The legacy of this illogical constitution principally framed by that goner Hilario Davide is it wants to impress on the people that all those who will be appointed to the judiciary are certified as “honest” by the incorporation of the Judicial and Bar Council in the Constitution. This is a departure from the traditional practice that nobody is supposed to overrule the appointees of the President, except if specifically required by the Constitution like the minimum requirement of being a member of the bar, have been in the practice of law for a certain number of years or has served as judge in the lower court, etc.

In effect, an anonymous entity made up of lawyers mostly coming from elitist schools was given the power to overrule the President. Looking hard at this provision means that the JBC is more powerful than the President when it comes to appointing who will take charge of our judicial system, and this syndicated buddy-buddy of lawyers now stands as the organization of the legal profession.

Moreover, even if the JBC is constitutionally mandated to recommend to the President his appointees to the judiciary, “the President can appoint only from the list of at least three nominees prepared by it as provided in Section 9, Article VIII, it does not mean that the JBC can collaterally amend Section 17 of Article XI, which state that “a public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter may be required by law, to submit a declaration under oath his assets, liabilities and net worth.”

Even if indeed there was an amendment introduced by Senator Francis Escudero, the question remains whether he can collaterally amend the constitution to make it “soft” and “easy” to candidates for appointment in the judiciary? In fact, nobody has heard about that, and if ever there was an amendment, he should have made a loud protestation to save the neck of his confederate in the Yellow opposition.

rpkapunan@gmail.com

Topics: Supreme Court , Maria Lourdes Sereno , Renato Corona Jr , Rodrigo Duterte , Francis Escudero , Cory Aquino
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