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JBC decision hinges on SC final ruling

THE Judicial and Bar Council will wait for the final ruling of the Supreme Court on the ouster of erstwhile Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before starting the application and nomination process for aspirants to the top judiciary post.

“The JBC will wait for the finality of the quo warranto decision,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

Sereno was ousted last week as chief justice after the Supreme Court voted 8-6 to grant the quo warranto petition against her, finding her unqualified for the position because she failed to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth—a failure that nine justices believed was a violation of the Constitution.

Her camp said Sereno would file a motion for reconsideration to appeal the SC decision on her quo warranto case.

Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, also a JBC member, also confirmed the information.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, one of Sereno’s counsel, said the latter could file a quo warranto to unseat her successor if “the political environment changes.”

In a related development:

• Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Saturday said the Supreme Court’s 8-6 vote to oust Sereno through a quo warranto petition had aggrieved the nation and ignited a “widespread” and “collective” condemnation never seen before in the high court’s 117-year history.

In a statement, Lagman said the public—including some citizens, legislators, lawyers, law deans and the clergy—has actively condemned the “unconstitutional” decision.

“Never in the 117-year history of the Supreme Court has any of its decisions ignited such a widespread and collective condemnation from an aggrieved nation than the 8-6 decision ousting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in an improvident and unwarranted quo warranto petition,” Lagman said.

In a forum on Saturday, Hilbay said filing a quo warranto was one of the possible actions Sereno might take against her successor if “she truly believes she is unlawfully removed.”

“We have to realize [that] Sereno would have stayed chief justice until 2030 and you have presidential elections in 2022,” the former solicitor general said.

He also suggested that when President Rodrigo Duterte’s successor agreed that the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly, the ball may change in favor of Sereno.

According to the rules of court, the government can initiate quo warranto proceedings against a person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office; a public person who commits an act that serves as a ground for the forfeiture of the position; or an association which acts as a corporation in the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority to act.

Sereno was ousted last week after the Supreme Court found her unqualified for the position because she failed to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth—a failure that nine justices believed was a violation of the Constitution.

Hilbay is Calida’s predecessor at the Office of the Solicitor General.

Those who voted against this recourse were Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Benjamin Caguioa, Estela Perlas Bernabe, Presbitero Velasco Jr., and Mariano del Castillo.

Hilbay said Sereno might likely file a motion for reconsideration next week seeking to reverse her colleague’s decision to unseat her as the Supreme Court chief.

Sereno’s counsel said her camp was looking into several grounds to reverse the SC ruling.

He said the SC had failed to include as parties the Senate and Judicial and Bar council.

Aside from that, the MR may contain an argument on the Senate’s resolution noting that the Senate is the only chamber that has a power to try and resolve the removal of certain impeachable official.

Hilbay, however, admitted their appeal to have a re-hearing might take time.

“It’s up to the Court when they will hear or rule [on] the motion for reconsideration,” he said.

Topics: Judicial and Bar Council , JBC , Supreme Court , SC , Maria Lourdes Sereno
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