THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said Thursday, March 22, that it will ask the Supreme Court to dismiss the quo warranto petition filed against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
In a statement, the IBP said that under the Constitution, "impeachment is the only mode of removal of an impeachable officer for an impeachable offense," not through a quo warranto petition, which was filed by the
Office of the Solicitor General.
Quo warranto is a legal procedure used to resolve a dispute over whether a person has the legal right to or authority over the public office that he or she occupies.
"A person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise, or a public officer who does or suffers an act which, by the provision of law, constitutes a ground for the forfeiture of his office" may be slapped with such petition, according to Rule 66 of the Rules of Court.
In Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petition, he said Sereno "unlawfully" holds her post due to her "failure" to fully disclose her wealth.
But the IBP said "entertaining the quo warranto petition on account of the Chief Justice’s supposed lack of integrity is tantamount to subjecting her to the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court."
"Under the Constitution, the members of the Supreme Court may not be ordered dismissed by any government authority other than by the Senate after an impeachment proceeding," it added.
"The Supreme Court may not inquire into the Chief Justice’s alleged lack of integrity without violating the fundamental principle of separation of powers. Having been appointed to her current post, the Chief Justice is presumed to have been previously adjudged by the President as having met the requirement of integrity. Consistent with the separation of powers, such judgment cannot be reviewed, much less reversed, by the Supreme Court. The President remains the ultimate judge of a candidate’s worthiness," said the IBP.
Sereno was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2012 following the ouster of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The IBP added that since Sereno may only be removed via impeachment on a question of integrity, "the quo warranto proceedings against her may not prosper because what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly." (SunStar Philippines)