Espinoza: End of the road for CJ Sereno?

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte reacted to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s challenge for him to prove he has no hand in the quo warranto petition that Solicitor General Jose Calida filed before the Supreme Court by calling for her immediate impeachment.

“I am putting you on notice that I am your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court. I will request Congress to do it...Kindly fast-track the impeachment,” he said before leaving for China to attend a bilateral conference.”If you are insisting, count me in. Then I will egg Calida to do his best. I told you already that I didn’t interfere,” the president added.

He continued: “Now I will really interfere. I am asking Congress, what’s taking you too long? Do not create any crisis in this country. I will not hesitate to do what is to the best interest of my country. If it calls for your forced removal, I will do it.” Is this the end of the road for CJ Sereno?

In response, Speaker Alvarez granted the president’s wish. The Lower House, when it resumes session, will immediately act on the president’s marching order to file the Articles of Impeachment against CJ Sereno before the Senate so that the trial will begin.

Granting that President Duterte truly is not behind the filing of the petition for quo warranto against Sereno before her peers in the SC, but Section 2, Rule 66 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court is clear that the solicitor general or the public prosecutor can only commence the petition for quo warranto when directed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

Section 2 states: “The Solicitor General or a public prosecutor, when directed by the President of the Philippines, or when upon complaint or otherwise he has good reason to believe that any case specified in the preceding section can be established by proof, must commence such action.”

The petition for quo warranto against Sereno is based on the charge that she is not qualified to be the chief justice because she failed to submit her statement of asset, liabilities and net worth (SALN) when she was a professor of UP and her IQ is average.

Many believe that Solgen Calida filed the quo warranto petition because there is no sufficient evidence to impeach Sereno. In fact, it took so long to approve the impeachment complaint at the committee level. For impeachable officials like Sereno, the impeachable offense is culpable violation of the Constitution.

Sereno daring President Duterte was apparently her gambit to know if he is truly not interfering in her impeachment case and in the quo warranto petition. President Duterte’s “request” for the House to fast track the impeachment case against Sereno says it all. And, who is Speaker Alvarez to say no to President Duterte?

On the other hand, the five SC associate justices who testified against Sereno at the hearing before the committee on justice of the Lower House did not inhibit from hearing the quo warranto petition against Sereno, who filed a motion for their inhibition.

Associate Justice Noel Tijam, appointee of President Duterte, rejected Sereno’s claim that he had prejudged Calida’s petition for quo warranto when he said that Sereno could be held for “culpable violation of the Constitution” when she did not appear at the hearing of the House justice committee.

“For Justice Tijam, the allegations the Chief Justice raised were just conjectures as they were not supported by sufficient evidence,” a source told the Inquirer. “Her statements merely tend to cast aspersion on the integrity and competence of the members of this court,” Tijam was quoted as saying in a draft resolution. Look who is talking.
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