Legaspi: Quo warranto and impeachment

FOR the past seven months, the Supreme Court got the spotlight when Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who is on leave, was subjected to quo warranto case and an impeachment case was filed against her, but we do not know who manipulates them.

But before I dig in the merits of the issue, what is quo warranto? The free legal dictionary on the web defined it as “a legal proceeding during which an individual's right to hold an office or governmental privilege is challenged.”

The businessdictionary.com defined it as a procedure by which a legal entity is stopped from continuing a course of action, by demanding to know by what authority or right it is doing what it is doing.

The English translation of “quo warranto” is “by what authority” or “by what warrant.” In a simpler definition, it is an English writ requiring a person to show by what authority he exercises a public office, franchise, or liberty.

In the case of CJ Sereno, Solicitor General Calida petitioned that she be removed from office and most of her colleagues in the Supreme Court is challenging her position.

She is now being questioned on the grounds of her appointment as Chief Justice by then president Noynoy Aquino. Her requirements are now being questioned.

The “quo warranto” proceedings are not yet the impeachment trial. The hearings are just to establish that indeed the Chief Justice has no authority to sit as such. The Supreme Court is wrapping up the oral arguments.

Solgen Calida is questioning the authority of CJ Sereno for there are still those who are more qualified than her on the shortlist submitted to President Aquino. He is also questioning why she was included in the list for she lacked some legal documents at the time.

The great question has she submitted the documents, if it is lacking then it is the committee that has to face the music and not the candidate, as simple logic would dictate.

Anyways, the deeper issue is the impeachment complaint. The allegations against Sereno are the violation of the Constitution, High Crime, Corruption and Betrayal of Public Trust.

These are serious and impeachable offenses as stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

The late CJ Corona was impeached by the Philippine Senate under also these complaints.

CNN reported that under the Violation of the Constitution, CJ Sereno has the following violations: tampering of Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for party-list proclamations; creation without en banc approval of the Judiciary Decentralized Office; delayed actions on petitions on the retirement benefits of Judges and Justices and the DOJ’s petition to transfer terror cases to Mindanao; failure to file Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) as UP Law professor.

Complaints on High Crime include tax evasion of more than 30 million earned as a private lawyer. On corruption, the complaint is she used public funds to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser amounting to P5 million and P200,000 per night for hotel accommodation.

On betrayal of public trust, she is accused of hiring an IT consultant without bidding and poor performance in a psychological test.

All these issues were logically and legally answered by the Chief Justice. The only problem now is that she is publicly judged but she also has the public support.

Quo warranto resolution, resignation or impeachment will not solve the problem of the country. It will just simply complicate things.
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