On the quo warranto petition, Section 11 of Rule 66 of the Rules of Court clearly provides: “Nothing contained in this Rule shall be construed to authorize an action against a public officer or employee for his ouster from office unless the same be commenced within one (1) year after the cause of action … arose.”
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was appointed Supreme Court associate justice in 2010 and then chief justice in 2012. In 2010, nobody questioned her qualification as a member of the high court. Up to her appointment as chief justice, nobody bothered to check if she had complied with everything contained in the checklist in support of her 2010 and 2012 applications.
The records in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) that nominated her are official and public in character and could have been verified by anyone, especially by her closest rivals for the chief magistrate position, like associate justice Teresita de Castro, et al. None of them ever did then. Can they claim now the cause of action for quo warranto arose only after the House of Representatives justice committee “discovered” that Sereno failed to submit some of her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth as required by JBC rules?
By not dismissing the petition outright, the Supreme Court may be reading something not found in the aforecited rule: One year from the time the cause of action was “discovered,” instead of “arose”! The cause of action to oust Sereno arose from the time it was made public record that she had failed to comply with the documentary requirements for her judicial appointments in 2010 and 2012. That one-year period cannot be reckoned from the time Sereno really angered the incumbent solicitor general, and her fellow justices for that matter!
But then again, as our law professor always says: The Supreme Court can “suspend” (read: disregard) any of its own rules according to its own whims! Obviously, this is all just politics with the “special participation” of Sereno’s colleagues in the high court who really hate her! And we thought all along those “gods in Padre Faura” were above all personal pettiness and the sins of anger and envy that only ordinary mortals were heir to. What a sad spectacle.
GABRIELLE MICHELLE M. AGUILLERA,
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.