Justice Isa questions reconstitution of bench by CJP

16 May, 2018, 07:50 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Sarah Elago

Court spokesman Theodore Te said justices voted 8-6 to grant a petition by the government's solicitor-general to remove Maria Lourdes Sereno from the 15-member tribunal for allegedly failing to file statements of assets and liabilities as required by law.

She also denied feeling bitter about not being appointed Chief Justice, since De Castro enjoys seniority over the ousted chief magistrate.

Justice Isa also wrote, "Needless to state the powers that the Constitution has granted to the Supreme Court can not be assumed by the said Director".

"The decision is immediately executory without further need of action from the court", Te said, adding the vote was eight-six against Sereno.

Duterte has sought the removal of Sereno and a top anti-graft prosecutor, Conchita Carpio-Morales, accusing them of allowing themselves to be used to discredit his administration.

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"How do would you know?" "I believe peace is within reach if we dare to believe that the future can be different from the past", he added.

In the concurring opinion released Friday, De Castro said the disagreements between her and Sereno are clearly not personal but "work-related".

Sereno is facing a separate impeachment bid in the House of Representatives, which is dominated by Duterte's allies.

The justices, he said, had become "instruments for political maneuverings."Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice said it was "disheartening" that the Supreme Court majority "played politics and were now part of the political circuit.Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas described Sereno's ouster as "the most brazen rape of the judicial branch by a self-confessed tyrant in Philippine history."Larry Gadon, the lawyer who filed the controversial impeachment complaint against Sereno, meanwhile, expressed elation at the high court ruling".

"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.

The approval of the Hon'ble Chief Justice is also not a substitute for an order of the Supreme Court.

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An hour after the decision, Sereno emerged from her office and urged her supporters to "defend the constitution and fight wrongdoing".

Once an independent judge like Sereno is ousted, "there will be no more balance of power".

"Let us set aside our differences because there is a greater and stronger enemy that we must all face", she told the cheering throng.

"After having a lapdog Congress and a seriously wounded Senate, we now have a puppet Supreme Court", the party said in a statement. She could then make her own prophecy come true, that a barrage of quo warranto cases will henceforth tie up the judiciary in a tangle of back-and-forths, by questioning any Duterte appointee's qualifications and demanding proof of their SALN.

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