Quo vadis Supreme Court?

I AM not a lawyer, but it does not mean that I do not care about the legal issues in our country right now. I may not be able to discourse on legal matters, but it does not mean that I do not know what is right and what is wrong. I hope lawyers, judges and justices in our judicial system, even up to the Supreme Court, are not in the illusion that they can deceive simple people with their legal jumbo mumbo, and that we the people will just accept their own definitions of what is right and what is wrong, of what is legal and what is illegal.

The circus of the present trial of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on the Quo Warranto by the Supreme Court is a case in point. It is becoming clear that the three branches of government, which are meant to be independent of each other for proper check and balance, are presently conniving to oust CJ Sereno. No less than Duterte himself has several times declared that he wants Sereno out. He even has ordered congress to impeach her. The present Solicitor General of the Office of the President is the one behind the Quo Warranto petition. The Lower House of Congress is manipulating the impeachment process and speeding it up.

It even has the nerve to summon the Chief Justice herself and other justices to stand before them. CJ Sereno did not accede, knowing full well that they were overstepping their bounds, but five justices did. They lowered themselves to accuse the Chief Justice of their petty gripes and hurts before a body that has no business to meddle in the affairs of the judiciary. Now these same justices—De Castro, Jardeleza, Peralta, Tijam and Bersamin—do not even inhibit themselves from discussing the Quo Warranto petition when they have shown that they are clearly biased against the Chief Justice. They have axes to grinds against her! They had already accused her in the congressional hearings and now they are going to judge her! Shame on them! What justice can come out when the accusers are the judges at the same time?

This Quo Warranto petition is itself a farce. Why has the once august Supreme Court lowered itself to hear this petition? The Quo Warranto is a petition to remove a public official from her/his office because of a defect on his/her appointment. It has been ruled by the same Supreme Court several times that an impeachable official can be removed from office only by impeachment. The chief justice is an impeachable official, ergo… Furthermore the Quo Warranto can only be invoked within one year of the appointment and taking office of the said official. Chief Justice Sereno has been in office as chief justice for already five years!

Why the circus then?

It is crystal clear that the justices in the present Supreme Court are allowing themselves to be used—and also perhaps bought?—by Duterte.

If CJ Sereno is removed Duterte will appoint the new chief justice. His capture of the judiciary will then be complete. He would now be able to do what he wants—pass any law, change the constitution, declare Martial Law all over the country—without any fear that his actions would be opposed or nullified by the Court.

Duterte will completely control judicial appointments to Supreme Court and all courts and thus pack the judiciary with his own people.

The chief justice is the head of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) which currently hears the complaint filed by Marcos against VP Leni. With Duterte’s own appointed CJ, the PET can easily be manipulated to favor his pet, Marcos!

It is imperative for Duterte to remove Sereno. He thus unleashes his presidential offices, the weak congress people who are at his beck and call, and now the justices who are willing to stake the independence of the judiciary for their petty dislikes and ambitions.

Justices of the Supreme Court, where will you bring justice and democracy?