AMRSP statement on the Supreme Court decision on quo warranto and safeguarding democracy

AMRSP statement on the Supreme Court decision on quo warranto and safeguarding democracy

This is to register our mind, as members of the Association of the Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), regarding the recent Supreme Court decision on the Quo Warranto petition and our deep concerns about safeguarding our hard earned democracy.

We, as a Filipino nation, have long embraced democracy and have been enjoying its blessings as the oldest democracy in Asia. Sadly, however, today that democracy is marred with populism and the rule of strong leaders, political dynasties and political patronage. The 1987 Philippine Constitution, though not perfect is still our guiding star, the highest law of the land, which defines how we should be governed as a nation, and as a people, democratic and freedom loving.

Last Friday, May 11, 2018, the Supreme Court voted to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, an impeachable officer, through a quo warranto proceeding. We are afraid that the independence and the system of checks and balances of the three pillars of our government – the executive (President), the legislative (House of Representatives and Senate) and the judiciary (Supreme Court) – have just been compromised.

We agree with Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, one of the 6 justices who voted against the petition, with his impassioned dissenting opinion and we quote … the ruling has left the High Court “vulnerable” and that the petition has set “a precedent that gravely diminishes judicial independence.” Seemingly, the decision violates to Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution, which provides:

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.

Not mincing words, Justice Leonen called the decision to remove an impeachable and a sitting member of the Supreme Court, “a legal abomination.” It creates a bad “precedent that gravely diminishes judicial independence and threatens the ability of this Court to assert the fundamental rights of our people. We render this Court subservient to an aggressive Solicitor General. We render those who present dissenting opinions unnecessarily vulnerable to powerful interests.”

We reiterate that we must uphold the 1987 Philippine Constitution. We elevate our protests to safeguarding democracy… the rule of law…so that God’s promise for a new heaven and a new earth may be realized here and now (2 Peter 3,13). We also pray for the well-being of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and all who are fighting for justice and righteousness in our country.

And, may our leaders still find in their hearts to rule like “King David who administered justice and righteousness for all his people. (2 Samuel 8,15)?”