Former Chief Justice: Granting quo warranto marks 'doomsday for the judiciary'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) — Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide believes the Supreme Court should vote against the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno — for its own good.

"That would be the doomsday for judicial independence and put at risk the integrity of the court," Davide told CNN Philippines on Friday ahead of the landmark decision.

He added it would be "the saddest day for the Philippine judiciary, especially the Supreme Court."

An en banc session of the Supreme Court on Friday is expected to decide on the petition that would invalidate the Sereno's appointment in 2012.

The quo warranto petition comes amid impeachment efforts in Congress. Sereno's camp and supporters maintain that an impeachment trial at the Senate is the only way to unseat her. The House of Representatives is poised to elevate the impeachment complaint to the upper house this month, but a decision favoring the quo warranto will preempt it.

Davide warned justices who would vote to invalidate Sereno's appointment will commit suicide, and open themselves up to be ousted by a vote.

"Those who voted in favor of the petition knowing pretty while it is filed out of time, and it is not the procedure to remove the Chief Justice, would themselves be liable later on," said Davide.

"It's sort of a suicide for them. There is no more future for them to really hold on to power," he said. "At any time they can also be removed."

He added he did not believe all the judges could be impartial, and urged some to inhibit.

Sereno's camp previously filed petitions for six associate justices to inhibit from the case. These are Lucas Bersamin, Teresita de Castro, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Diosdado Peralta, and Noel Tijam.

"If they are going to participate, I would say that they would have bias and cannot decide impartially and give her due process," said Davide.

Davide's opinion differs from former Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, who maintains that it is not too late to take up the quo warranto if the cause for the supposedly invalid appointment is only recently discovered.

"If there are grounds to say that an appointment was flawed from the very start, that it was void... I don't think you need an impeachment for that purpose. I think a quo warranto would be the proper remedy," said Nachura.

Sereno has voted against some of President Rodrigo Duterte's decisions, including extended martial law in Mindanao and the burial of late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Duterte's critics believe the move to oust her is clampdown on the judiciary.

As for Sereno, her camp says she would accept any decision of the high court.

"If there were a final decision ousting her via this mode, then we would have to respect it," Sereno's spokesperson Carlo Cruz told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

He added, "But if we leave that office, it would be with our heads held high and our hearts whole — because even if we would have lost, we would have won."