On May 11, 2018, the Supreme Court, voting 8-6, ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno. In an unprecedented decision, the divided Court granted the petition for the issuance of a writ of quo warranto. The Court held that Mrs. Sereno was ineligible to be Chief Justice for failing to submit the relevant Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) during her stint as a professor of the University of the Philippines-College of Law. Doctrinally, the Court held that impeachment was not the sole ground to remove an impeachable officer, such as the Chief Justice, and a quo warranto petition may be given due course on the premise that failure to comply with the necessary constitutional requirements is a ground for voiding an appointment of an impeachable officer ab initio. Specifically, the Court ruled that the failure of the Chief Justice to comply with the SALN requirement necessarily casts a shadow on her integrity, a constitutional requirement to be a Member of the Court. Subsequently, the Court affirmed its decision on June 19, 2018.
For months, the political opposition, the students, and some constitutionalists have questioned the implication of the Court’s controversial ruling. Today, the political opposition in the House of Representatives led by Congressmen Lagman, Villarin, Alejano and Baguilat, Jr. have filed an impeachment complaint against seven of the so-called “Bias 8,” namely Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr, and Alexander Gesmundo. They are being accused of cuplable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for agreeing to remove Sereno via quo warranto. Only former Jusice and now Ombusdman Martires was the sole Member of the Court voting in favor of the quo warranto petition not to be included in the complaint.
In line with this development, the impeachment complaint inititates the Constitutional process found in Article XI of the 1987 Constitution.
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