Carvajal: Rule of law

CHIEF Justice Sereno is not fighting to save the constitution. She is fighting only for her constitutional right to be ousted solely by a guilty verdict from the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.

There are more basic constitutional rights that she puts aside to defend herself. Like it is every citizen’s fundamental right to file a case against anybody in a proper court of law. This is what the SolGen exercised in filing the quo warranto case against her before the Supreme Court (SC). Anybody could have filed it and the SC would have been duty-bound to hear it.

The constitution provides that the SC is the ultimate authority on the interpretation of the constitution and its implementing laws. So why did she lose her cool when the SC entertained the Quo Warranto case? Instead of taking the high road by observing the court’s sub judice rule with the quiet dignity of a Chief Justice and the confidence of the innocent, she took the political low road and aired in public her very uncourtly defense, prejudging the case as based on hearsay, lambasting President Duterte for messing with the independence of the judiciary, and accusing colleagues of bias against her.

By insisting on impeachment as the only way to oust her, Sereno makes herself out to be an untouchable superior being. She forgets that we have ousted two Presidents by people power. Constitutional or not, civil disobedience is always an option in a democracy.

If the President can be ousted with something as unconstitutional as people power, why not a Chief Justice with quo warranto which is a constitutional instrument for the removal of illegally sitting public officials? I find it arrogant of her to presume that as Chief Justice she is more untouchable than the President.

And did democracy die with the unconstitutional ouster of presidents? No. So, isn’t it presumptuous to claim democracy would die if the Chief Justice is dethroned via constitutional quo warranto?

A quo warranto judgment is an annulment. In marriage, annulment does not separate a couple. It judges that there was never a marriage hence no spouses to separate. Likewise, the SC simply declared Sereno was never validly a Chief Justice. Hence, there is nobody to oust or impeach.

The SC could, of course, be wrong as it had been in the past and could be killing itself with this decision as Associate Justice Caguioa fears. But how do we know the SC would rather be killed by the majority than by one of them. In any case, Ms. Sereno ought to realize that the SC will reverse its decision only with fresh evidence and not with more barbed political arrows aimed at the President.

That I think is the rule of law.


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