Granting quo warranto not impeachable offense

MANILAHouse Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday said the granting of the quo warranto petition to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is not an impeachable offense.

In a press briefing, Alvarez said the eight Supreme Court (SC) justices who voted to grant the petition "acted within their powers as provided for by the Constitution."

He said the magistrates only followed the principle of separation of powers between the legislature and judiciary.

He made the comment in reaction to the opposition's planned filing of impeachment cases against the eight SC justices.

Last week, Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said the impeachment complaints would be based on the ground of culpable violation of the Constitution.

Villarin, who is also part of the independent bloc called Magnificent 7, said Sereno's ouster through a quo warranto usurps the powers of Congress, noting that the Constitution provides that the top magistrate can only be removed through an impeachment.

Those who voted to grant the quo warranto petition against Sereno were Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, and Noel Tijam who penned the Court's decision.

Alvarez also reiterated that the quo warranto case and the impeachment proceeding are two different courses of action to oust Sereno.

Quo warranto is a legal proceeding that is used to challenge a person's legal right to hold public office, while impeachment is the process of charging a high public official on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, or other high crimes.

"Wala naman nag-question na exclusive ang jurisdiction ng Congress in impeaching itong mga impeachable officials as provided for in the Constitution (There's no question about Congress' exclusive jurisdiction to impeach impeachable officials as provided for in the Constitution)," Alvarez said.

"Kaya lang hindi naman sinabi na yun lang yung paraan para tanggalin itong mga impeachable officials na ito. Meron pang ibang paraan na matatanggal sila (However, it does not mean that [impeachment] is the only method to remove impeachable officials. There are other ways)," he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency