The question before the SC was whether an official without requisite and complete documentation holds office legally
Ousted Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are seeking a reversal of the eight to six vote quo warranto decision of the High Court effectively declaring her office vacant. There are others who’ve lent their voices to a chorus that should have been refraining long before the SC decision was made and are now desperately relying on a slim chance of an upheaval.
Two things give her and her supporters hope where there might be none. One is the slim lead of one vote between the majority and the dissenting justices. The other is that since Sereno had filed a motion for consideration, there is yet no finality. All others, from the persuasive pressures applied by international personages and agencies, to interest groups who’ve drawn partisan lines do not matter. More so where these charge the SC of having lost its independence, because, ironically, where they charge the latter of such, by their own prayer they raise a contradiction.
On both of the aspects that seem to offer hope of a reversal, well, tough luck.
In the case of the IBP, the principal contention is that the SC is not a trier of facts and is limited to only judge on legal and constitutional issues. While true, the quo warranto charge brought before it by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) had already established the fact of incomplete and missing documentation. Complete documentation either exists or it doesn’t. The OSG had simply wanted to determine if such either warrants a legal right to the office held or not. If not, then the office is considered vacant.
Proving whether the ousted Chief Justice did or did not submit her requisite Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) was not a dispute the SC had to resolve. The question before the SC was whether an official without requisite and complete documentation holds office legally.
For the SC to consider the IBP contention, the SC would have to admit first it erred collectively by even considering a quo warranto charge regardless of its substance or merit.
On the matter of Sereno’s motion, it’s doomed to fail ab initio.
And it isn’t because of what most might suspect, or what rabid critics of the government would, in their dreams and fantasies, have us think.
It’s impending failure has nothing to do with partisanship as those who lament the demise of justice they all-too readily see into the impeachment charges arrayed against the former Chief Justice at the Lower House. It isn’t about politics as the IBP charge likewise implies.
Neither partisan politics nor the incompleteness of SALN’s required to be a justice underlies and dooms Maria Lourdes Sereno’s motion for reconsideration (MR).
Arraying the majority decision against the most popularly cited dissenting opinions, we see where the probability of crossovers would be unlikely. Both sides are valid and do not allow for a rethink.
Analyzing the majority decision, it anticipated all possible dissent by addressing the quo warranto debate, the justifications for non-inhibition, the critical question of an ab initio voidance of appointment, to even questions of unpaid tax liabilities, and criminal folly regarding inaccuracies in Sereno’s SALN. All bases were covered prohibiting an unexpected leap over the fence that does not first admit to erroneous thinking. Discern the decision. Nothing on both sides were patently erroneous.
The decision’s dissent focused more on the inapplicability of quo warranto charges as an impeachment option rather than Sereno’s innocence. Sereno’s own defense focused largely on the question of optional inhibitions.The best argued dissenting opinion even admitted to two impeachable charges where SALN inaccuracies invariably lead to eventual prosecution either in the tax courts or the Sandiganbayan.
None of these allows for cataclysmic reconsiderations. If there are to be any upheavals, it would be where one dissenting justice sides with the majority and not the other way around.