Press Release
May 11, 2018


Many years ago, when called upon to resolve a conflict between the legislature and the judiciary during the early days of the Philippine tradition of constitutional government, Justice Jose P. Laurel made an insightful observation: "In times of social disquietude or political excitement, the great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if not entirely obliterated."

More than eighty years after they were written, these words still ring true, as it appears that the political excitement surrounding the embattled Chief Justice has obscured the longstanding constitutional doctrines that govern the removal of impeachable officers.

It is well-established that the Constitution vests the sui generis power to remove an impeachable officer solely and exclusively in Congress. The road to unseating any impeachable officer, including the Chief Justice, must start at the House of Representatives and end at the Senate. No detours are allowed.

By granting the quo warranto petition to oust Ma. Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice the Supreme Court has circumvented this crystal-clear constitutional mandate of Congress, subverting in the process the paramount tradition of separation of powers that lies at the very heart of our republican system of government.

Sereno will certainly file a Motion for Reconsideration, which will give the Court the chance to revisit its ruling. I am hopeful that the honorable members of the Court will come around and recognize the ongoing impeachment proceedings in the House as the exclusive legal means available to prosecute Sereno's ouster.

In the event that the House will vote to impeach Sereno, I am confident that the Senate will conduct her impeachment trial with the utmost impartiality, probity, and integrity. The Senate will not hesitate to remove her from office if she is found guilty of the serious charges she is facing. What is important here is that Sereno be given her day in court, and that day must come before the Senate acting as an Impeachment Court, not the Supreme Court.

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