The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday voted for ouster of Chief Justice (CJ) Maria Lourdes Sereno, a move that is perceived by some as a doomsday for the judiciary system of the Philippines.
SC voted 8-6 to grant the “quo warranto” petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida to nullify the Sereno’s appointment due to non-disclosure of her wealth, a similar reason why her predecessor of the late and former CJ Renato Corona was impeached. Sereno, the first woman to hold the top post in the SC, was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III following the dismissal of Corona.
Sereno is the first chief justice to be removed through a ‘quo warranto’ proceedings.
“The petition for quo warranto is granted, respondent Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno is found disqualified from and is hereby adjudged guilty of unlawfully holding and exercising the office of the Chief Justice. Accordingly, respondent Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno is ousted and excluded therefrom,” the court decision stated as relayed by SC Spokesman Theodore Te in a press briefing.
Eight (8) SC justices voted to grant the quo warranto petition against Sereno:
- Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro
- Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta
- Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin
- Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza
- Associate Justice Samuel Martires,
- Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr.
- Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo
- Associate Justice Noel Tijam
On the other hand, the following six (6) justices voted against the petition:
- Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
- Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco
- Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo
- Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe
- Associate Justice Marvic Leonen
- Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa
Following her removal, Sereno spoke to her supporters, stating that her fight has just started.
“Inilagay tayo dito para sa mga ganitong panahon, ang araw na ito ay araw ng paglaban. Ang araw na ito ay hindi katapusan, kundi simula lamang,” Sereno to her supporters.
She urged the Filipino people to speak out, rally against ‘bigger, stronger enemy’, and defend justice and accountability. “Kailangang higit ang pagmamatyag natin sa panahon ng tag-dilim, buuin natin ang isang kilusang Pilipino na patuloy na ipagtatanggol ang katarungan at maniningil sa ating mga tinalagang lingkod bayan,” she added. “Patuloy nating ikalat ang mensahe ng demokrasya at katuwiran. Magtiwala kayo, sama-sama nating titibagin ang mga kasinungalingan at pagmamalabis. Sinasabi ko sa inyo, ang mga buwan ng panalangin, paninindigan at paghihirap nating lahat ay mayroong malaking saysay.”
The Former CJ is facing an impeachment trial prior to her ouster through the ‘quo warranto’ proceedings. Sereno’s spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao said they will file a motion for reconsideration.