Sonny Angara: Granting quo warranto would be an injustice to Sereno

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 9) — Granting the quo warranto petition to unseat Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno would be an injustice to her, Senator Sonny Angara said on Wednesday.

"She wasn't really given her day in the impeachment court. What the Constitution says is she's going to be tried by elected representatives... by the people, not by 15 justices," Angara told CNN Philippines' The Source.

The comment comes in the wake of reports Supreme Court justices will grant a quo warranto petition that renders Sereno's appointment as Chief Justice invalid.

Granting it may result in prematurely ending the impeachment process. The House of Representatives is poised to elevate the impeachment complaint to the Senate when session resumes on May 14.

Angara pointed out the Constitution provides that a Chief Justice can only be unseated by impeachment, which goes through the legislative body.

"pagka ginawa ng judiciary on its own, against its highest member, medyo nagkakagulo ang institutional set up natin," he said.

[Translation: If the judiciary does that on its own against its highest member, our institutional set-up gets messy.]

The senator also pointed to Rule 66, Section 11 of the Rules of Court. The rule provides that quo warranto petitions can only be effective within a year "after the cause of such ouster, or the right of the petitioner to hold such office or position, arose."

Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the quo warranto in March this year. He questioned Sereno's appointment in 2012, citing missing statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) from her years teaching as a law professor at the University of the Philippines.

"If the Supreme Court grants it, in effect they'll be violating their own rules because there's a one-year prohibition," said Angara.

Angara is one among other senators who believe an impeachment trial at the Senate is the proper recourse for Sereno.

On April 25, Senate President Koko Pimentel floated the idea of voting on the validity of the quo warranto decision.

However, Angara said that the Senate could not do anything if the Supreme Court renders a decision.

"At the end of the day, the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of our laws," he said. "If we don't follow what they do, magkakagulo talaga [it will really be a mess]."

The Supreme Court will hold an en banc session on Friday. Sereno, who has since returned from her indefinite leave, is expected to preside — but she will inhibit from deliberations on her quo warranto case.

Watch the full interview with Angara here.