MANILA – Seven Supreme Court justices who voted for the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno are facing an impeachment complaint before the House of the Representatives.
Accused of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust were associate justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., and Alexander Gesmundo.
Samuel Martires, who also voted for the ouster via quo warranto of Sereno, has been appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the Ombudsman and was thus spared from the complaint.
Opposition representatives Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District), Rodolfo Alejano (Magdalo party-list), Teddy Baguilat Jr. (Ifugao) and Tom Villarin (Akbayan party-list) filed the complaint.
“The impeachment complaint against the seven SC justices was about the improvident and controversial quo warranto that unseated Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno,” Lagman said.
Under the 1987 Constitution, impeachable officials like the chief justice can be removed from the position only through impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court, Lagman argued.
“If magistrates who are sworn to uphold the Constitution subvert the very fundamental law by arrogating jurisdiction over an impeachable official, perforce they deserve to be impeached,” he said.
On May 11 high court justices voted 8-6 in favor of the quo warranto petition that sought to nullify the appointment of Sereno as chief justice. Sereno’s motion for reconsideration was dismissed a month later.
An impeachment complaint was filed against Sereno herself at the House last year. The House justice committee approved six articles of impeachment after months-long hearings.
But the House leadership considered the pending articles of impeachment “moot and academic” after the SC ruled with finality on Sereno’s ouster./PN