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Just asking

By Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

IS impeachment really the only way to remove a sitting president, vice president, justices of the Supreme Court, members of Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman?

When one refers to the wording of Section 2 of Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the word “only” cannot be found. The said Constitutional provision simply states that the identified officials of the government “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.”

From a non-lawyer’s point of view, the Constitution provides for impeachment simply as one way of removing the concerned officials of the government.

Does such provision of the Constitution bar the removal of incumbent Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno through the quo warranto petition filed by the Solicitor General before the Supreme Court?

The camp of Chief Justice Sereno claims that the chief magistrate can only be removed from office through impeachment. Such claim raises a number of questions.

The basis of the quo warranto petition is the alleged failure of the Chief Justice to submit the required Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for at least ten (10) years prior to her application as Chief Justice.

It is a clear violation of the rules set forth by the Judicial and Bar Council.
Can such issue be used as one of the grounds for impeachment when such act was committed prior to her appointment as Chief Justice? Under which Constitutionally-provided impeachment offenses does the failure to file the required SALNs fall?

Assuming that there are no other issues against the Chief Justice except her failure to submit the required SALNs when she applied for the position, will impeachment be the proper venue to make her to account for the said failure?

Does the Supreme Court have no jurisdiction to decide on the matter?

Impeachment is a political matter. If the Chief Justice has overwhelming support from the members of House of Representatives, there will be no more venue to make her account for her failure to required SALNs if impeachment is the only way to remove her from office, as her camp claims.

The camp of Chief Justice Sereno also claims that she was not the only applicant to the position who failed to submit the required SALNs. Such “defense” is least expected from the Chief Justice herself or her camp. Does the failure of other applicants provide her the “license” to violate the rule?
Just asking.

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