IBP: Only Senate can unseat Chief Justice

Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo. IBP

MANILA – Only the Senate, assembled as an impeachment court, has the power to oust an incumbent justice of the Supreme Court (SC), the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said.

In a statement, IBP president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo stressed that the group stands firm that a member of the SC can only be removed through impeachment and not by a quo warranto petition.

“This is pursuant to our position that only the Senate, assembled as an impeachment court, has the power to dismiss an incumbent justice of the Supreme Court on questions pertaining to his or her alleged lack of integrity,” said Fajardo.

Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted as chief justice through an 8-6 vote during a special en banc session on Friday, favoring the quo warranto petition that Solicitor General Jose Calida has filed.

Sereno is the first SC chief justice removed from position not by impeachment. The IBP seeks the reversal of the landmark ruling.

Fajardo added that only the impeachment court could decide whether Sereno must be unseated after allegedly not submitting the required number of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to the Judicial and Bar Council in 2012.

Most of the SC justices – including Associate Justice Noel Tijam who penned the decision – believed that Sereno’s appointment as chief magistrate was void from the start due to such reason.

Among those who voted in favor of Calida’s petition were Tijam, associate justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Andres Reyes Jr., Lucas Bersamin, Samuel Martires, Alexander Gesmundo, and Francis Jardeleza.

Those who voted against it were associate justices Antonio Carpio, Marvic Leonen, Presbitero Velasco Jr., Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perez-Bernabe, and Benjamin Alfredo Caguioa./PN


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