By Reynard Magtoto
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) is calling on members of the legal profession, law students, and court workers, to a day of indignation in front of the Supreme Court tomorrow, May 15, as a move for constitutional salvation.
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno’s ouster through the erroneous quo warranto shortcut petition was unconstitutional and it means that the Supreme Court (SC) has surrendered its independence to political pressures according to NUPL.
“As members of the bar we are duty bound, under oath, to be dispensers of justice and protect the “rule of law.” Our reason for being is put to question. We are being forced to relearn or unlearn what we studied or taught in law school. The Decision revolts against norms we hold dear,” NUPL in a statement said.
Voting 8-6, the SC granted the quo warranto petition to remove CJ Sereno from office on Friday, May 11.
Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr, and Alexander Gesmundo voted for the quo warranto while Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr, Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas Bernabe, Marvic Leonen, and Benjamin Caguioa wanted to dismiss the said petition.
It was noted that Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Lucas Bersamin were also voted to acquit of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for plunder and voted for Marcos burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
In her speech in front of her supporters last week, CJ Sereno said that definitely she won however six of the justices did not follow the rules of compulsory inhibitions to abstain from voting.
“Anim po sa natitirang walo ang nagsabing hindi ako dapat alisin, dalawa lamang po ang bumoto na ako ay dapat alisin. Ngunit dahil ayaw mag-inhibit ang dapat mag-inhibit, ganyan na lamang po ang nangyari. Inaalis ako sa pwesto ngunit ang anim na boto na ako ay dapat manatili ay patunay na tama ang aking paninindigan, ang inyong paninindigan (Six of the remaining eight have said that I should not be removed, just two of them voted that I must be removed. But because they do not want to abstain from those who needed to abstain, that’s just what happened. They removed me from the position but the six votes that I must stay are proof that my stand is right, your stand),” Sereno said.
“They claimed the senate’s sole right,” Sereno added. Accordign to her, they violated their sworn duty to guard the constitution and they destroyed the judiciary.
Even Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa was in deep shame and regret the day when the court ousted CJ Sereno.
“No matter how dislikable a member of the Court is, the rules cannot be changed just to get rid of him, or her in this case. The other members of the Court – the Court en banc – are called upon to grin and bear the unbearable as travelling this prohibited road will be at the expense and to the extreme prejudice of the independence of the entire Judiciary, the independence of the Court’s individual members, and the freedom of discourse within the Court,” Caguioa stated. “This case marks the time when the Court commits seppuku – without honor.”
It is alarming how the impeachment process has been reduced from a means to hold high government officials accountable into a weapon for beheading the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman – two important institutions for accountability according to Movement Against Tyranny (MAT).
“And with this quo warranto petition, another weapon has been forged, this time for the Supreme Court to commit harakiri,” MAT in a statement said.
NUPL is one of the allied groups of MAT that aims to unite all freedom loving Filipinos against tyranny and build a broad front to counter the increasing fascism and militarist rule of the Duterte government.
The Movement also aims to resist the continuing attempts to undermine, pressure or otherwise render ineffective the courts, Congress, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights, the working press, the political opposition and ordinary citizens critical of government policies and programs.
With protest action in Padre Faura, NUPL encourages parallel simultaneous activities in regional & city courts outside Manila.
CJ Sereno encourages everyone to stand up and set aside differences.
“Habang tumitindig tayo para sa tuwid hindi tayo kailanman magiging talunan. Hindi na tayo maaaring manatiling tahimik dahil ang pananahimik ay katumbas ng pagiging kasabwat sa kanilang pang-aabuso (As we stand up for the right we will never be defeated. We can no longer remain silent because silence is equivalent to being involved in their abuse),” Sereno said. (BaretanBikolnon.com/With report and Featured Photo from Kodao)