Trillanes, De Lima file intervention plea vs. quo warranto petition

MANILA Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and detained Senator Leila De Lima filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to intervene in the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to nullify the appointment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

This is the fourth petition for intervention filed before the SC which seeks the dismissal of the quo warranto case against Sereno for lack of jurisdiction.

The first three petitions were filed by Makabayan bloc consisting of party-list lawmakers led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and a group of private individuals, led by running priest Fr. Robert Reyes and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

In a 26-page opposition-in-intervention petition, Trillanes and De Lima, through their lawyer Florin Hilbay, said present petition for quo warranto filed by the OSG seeks the removal or ouster of the Chief Justice via a means other than impeachment. This is contrary to the language, spirit, and design of the Constitution.

The said provision of the Constitution provides that the "The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment."

Any proceeding whose aim is to remove an impeachable public officer outside an impeachment trial in the Senate is a palpable violation of the Constitution; it is a diminution of the Impeachment Clause, a circumvention of the exclusive character of an impeachment, and incompatible with the design of the Constitution. With due respect, the Honorable Court should not allow itself to become a party to a patent transgression of the Constitution," the petition read.

On Tuesday, the high court denied petition filed by the Makabayan bloc and a group of private individuals seeking to intervene on the quo warranto petition.

However, the court noted the intervention petition filed by IBP.

The SC has set the oral arguments in Baguio City on April 10.

Solicitor General Jose Calida's petition against Sereno stemmed from a letter filed by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari, urging him to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against the top magistrate.

Last Feb. 21, Mallari, who called Sereno a "de facto chief justice", asked the OSG to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against her.

Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto proceeding is an action by the government against a person who unlawfully holds a public office or holds a position where he or she is not qualified.

Calida insisted that a quo warranto proceeding is a "proper remedy to question the validity of Sereno's appointment."

Source: Philippine News Agency