Much ado about quo warranto
It really surprises me that people who should know better do not seem to know better.
I am not saying that CJ Maria Lourdes Serreno should be ousted by quo warranto. I am not saying that her appointment was infirm. I am raising and addressing a point of law.
There is an ongoing debate now about whether or not an impeachable official may be the respondent in quo warranto proceedings with the end of unseating such an official.
Here is a very simple example: The Constitution requires that the Commission on Elections chair, an impeachable official, be a Member of the Bar. If the appointee faked his membership, or faked his credentials and was nevertheless appointed, is it not obvious that quo warranto would lie to declare that his appointment was wrongful and that therefore he would have no right to occupy office?
“Can be removed from office only by impeachment”...where did that come from? In fact the phraseology of Article XI makes nothing exclusive:
SECTION 2. 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 for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.
Impeachment would be the way out if he or she did hold office LEGALLY. If the holding of office was, ab initio, tainted with a fatal infirmity, then such a person could never have really been duly appointed, and quo warranto would be proper to make him or her vacate the position.
More importantly, however, the Rules of the Supreme Court as Presidential Electoral Tribunal provide for quo warranto proceedings against the President and the Vice President, both IMPEACHABLE officials who, under the Constitution, may be removed from office only by impeachment.
Rule 12. Jurisdiction.—The Tribunal shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President of the Philippines. (R12)
Rule 13. How initiated.—An election contest is initiated by the filing of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto against the President or Vice President. An election protest shall not include a petition for quo warranto. A petition for quo warranto shall not include an election protest. (R13a)
In other words, against the President and the Vice President—both impeachable officials of whom the Constitution ordains that they may be removed from office only by impeachment, quo warranto will lie.
Why should a Chief Justice be subject to better treatment—outside the ambit of quo warranto proceedings? What textual support is there in the Constitution for this argument that a Chief Justice cannot be the subject of quo warranto proceedings?
I really do not see the point—and if so many brilliant people say that a Chief Justice is not susceptible to quo warranto proceedings, then I must be damn stupid!