The Office of Solicitor General (OSG) on Monday filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC), seeking to nullify the appointment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno.
In a 34-page petition for quo warranto, Solicitor General Jose Calida petitioned the SC to declare Sereno’s appointment on August 24, 2012 as Chief Justice as void and oust her from the judiciary’s top post.
The petition emanated from a letter filed by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari, urging Calida to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against the top magistrate.
On Februrary 21 Mallari, who called Sereno? a “de facto chief justice,” asked the OSG to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against her.
Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto proceeding is an action by the government against a person who unlawfully holds a public office or holds a position where he or she is not qualified.
Calida insisted that a quo warranto proceeding is a “proper remedy to question the validity of Sereno’s appointment.”
“Petition for quo warranto at the Supreme Court where you will be judged by your peers who know you and the Constitution better,” Calida said at a news conference.
He also said that his filing of a quo warranto proceeding against Sereno is “an act of kindness.”
“I don’t expect you to appreciate this but believe me, this is an act of kindness to a fellow lawyer,” he said.
“The Office of the Solicitor General will not allow you to undergo the indignity that the late Chief Justice Renato C. Corona suffered at the hands of politicians who unjustly convicted him. You do not deserve that,” Calida said.
Sereno will also be given a chance to answer the allegations against her, Calida added.
Sereno’s camp, meanwhile, urged the SC to dismiss the quo warranto petition, noting that it has no legal basis.
“The Supreme Court ought not to entertain the quo warranto petition for it has absolutely no basis in law and in the Constitution. The high tribunal should dismiss the petition outright on the basis that quo warranto is not a proper remedy. Under the 1987 Constitution, the Chief Justice may only be removed from office upon impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court,” Sereno said in a news statement sent to reporters covering the Supreme Court.
“We wish to reiterate that this latest action by the Solicitor General is part and parcel of the grand plan to harass, malign and humiliate the Chief Justice to force her to resign because her detractors know that the impeachment case, which was built on lies, won’t stand a chance in the Senate,” the statement read.
Sereno also called the OSG’s move a “cruel act” toward the Filipino people, stressing that she is ready to face trial and disprove all allegations against her before the Senate, which is the only body or institution that can remove her from office via two-thirds vote of all its members.
The Chief Justice’s camp also said the instant action for quo warranto against her is devoid of basis, not to mention that the one-year prescriptive period for filing such action has long prescribed pursuant to Section 11 of Rule 66 of the Rules of Court.