MAJOR premise: You cannot remove something or someone that is not in place. In short, You cannot remove what is not there.

Minor premise: Juan is not in place, is not there. Ergo: There’s nobody to remove. You can only declare Juan as simply not where he and people think he is.

In any syllogism, the major premise is often conceded for being either a self-evident or a generally accepted and already proven truth. It is the minor premise that needs to be proven if one is to arrive at the logical or correct conclusion.

In the instant syllogism the major premise is self-evident. But the minor premise is not and needs to be proven. If Juan is proven to be in place or in position, he can be removed from that place or position for one reason or another. But if he is proven to be not in place or position, who is there to remove? Or where do you remove him from? Juan is simply declared as not there in the first place, ab initio in legalese.

Chief-Justice-on-leave Maria Lourdes Sereno looks to syllogize this way:

Major premise: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (SC) can only be removed, according to the constitution, by impeachment.

Minor premise: I am the Chief Justice.

Ergo: I can only be removed by impeachment.

Her major premise is easily conceded because anybody can read it in the constitution. The Quo Warranto case, however, challenges her minor premise, that she is a validly appointed Chief Justice. Since minor premises have to be proven, the SC is wise to summon her for an answer.

I salute the SC for going beyond politics in acknowledging that universal truths precede particular (such as constitutional) truths. The universal principle that someone cannot be removed if he/she is not in place takes precedence over the constitutional principle that the Chief Justice can only be removed by impeachment.

Impeachment presumes that Sereno is Chief Justice. But the Quo Warranto case is challenging that presumption. Thus she must first prove herself to be a valid Chief Justice, hence an impeachable official. If she is proven to be not a validly appointed Chief Justice she is not removed any which way but simply declared as never to have occupied the position of Chief Justice.

To her credit she sees the validity of the summons and intends to face her peers in the SC. It is, however, disappointingly not lawyer-like and, worse still, not Chief-Justice-like of her to discuss her case in public and prejudge the allegations against her as “contrived” and her accusers as “evil.”

Of all people, she should know the sub judice rule. She also ought to know that her accusers’ (evil?) motives are irrelevant. They cannot exonerate her of any proven malfeasance.