Friday, December 14, 2018

Carvajal: Her Catch-22

MA. Lourdes Sereno’s un-lawyerlike-because- egregiously- political reaction to the Supreme Court’s final ruling on her ouster serves only to confirm that in addition to not being legally qualified for, she is also not worthy of, the position of Chief Justice.

Plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, and justices have to observe the rule on evidence in arguing for their cases. And the Supreme Court is the guardian of this rule. Yet, in a very un-chief-justice-like manner she blames her ouster on Malacañang’s political interference with the independence of the judiciary.

This is lack of respect for her peers whom she in effect accuses, without proof, of not ruling on valid evidence but on political pressure from Malacañang. This is a Catch-22 as she defends a judiciary she does not respect. Thus, the more she insists without evidence on having been ousted because of Malacanang’s interference with the judiciary, the more she violates the rules of court on evidence.

Moreover, while it is true that the Constitution mandates some officials, like the Chief Justice, to be removable only by impeachment, it is also central in the country’s constitution that the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the nation’s laws. When the latter, therefore, ruled that it had jurisdiction over the Quo Warranto case, she should have respected the Court’s ruling as being in accordance with the rule of law.

Instead she flailed like an angry politician and not like a somber judge at the administration for interfering in her case, hence violating the rule of law that she now vows to continue fighting for.

This is strange and crazy. What law did the Supreme Court violate in acting on the Quo Warranto case? And what proof does she have that her peers did not rule on evidence but succumbed instead to the pressure from Malacañang?

It would seem now that she is fighting for the rule of law as interpreted by her and not by the Supreme Court. This is more Catch-22. The more she fights for the rule of law as interpreted by her, the more she violates the rule of law as interpreted by the Supreme Court whose decision has to be presumed regular unless proven otherwise.

If she were removed by impeachment, she could have more credibly claimed political interference as both cages of Congress are full of political animals. But the High Court was simply exercising its responsibility of interpreting the law when it ruled it had jurisdiction on the Quo Warranto case.

Sereno should take a cue from highly respected Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio. He voted with the minority, yet he asks people to abide by the decision of the majority of the High Court as this is how (the rule of law in a democracy works.


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