Sereno’s reinstatement not going to happen
Retired chief justice Artemio Panganiban’s column (“Five game-changing SC decisions,” 3/28/21) mentioned the quo warranto case initiated by Solicitor General Jose Calida against former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was ousted by the Supreme Court in clear defiance of the Constitution which ordains that a high public official like her was removable only by impeachment through Congress. It was generally seen by a vast majority of law practitioners and pundits as a shamelessly and shamefully political decision — to appease President Duterte.
The Supreme Court knew it was wrong, which, we think, was why it could not allow that grotesque decision to set a precedent. By a unanimous vote this time around, it tried to redeem itself and blocked the solicitor general’s second attempt to do quo warranto, this time against Associate Justice Marvic Leonen (another bête noire of the Duterte administration) on the same grounds: Alleged failure to comply with the requirements regarding statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs).
But we wouldn’t bet a single peso on Sereno being “reinstated” — if not as chief justice, as member of the Court whose compulsory retirement is not due until 2030 — as CJ Panganiban might wish to happen. And it’s only because Sereno has shown no interest in claiming her lawful right to be considered still a member of the Supreme Court. The fact of the matter is, only her appointment as chief justice was declared null and void, which means it was AS IF that appointment was nonexistent.
Logic and common sense dictate that she should be deemed to have ipso facto reverted to her post as associate justice, an appointment that was never questioned and stands to this day! Indisputable proof: Only her portrait as the 24th chief justice in that Court’s gallery has been taken down, now replaced by that of former chief justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro—her “mortal enemy” and prime insider-mover of her ouster. Sereno’s portrait as its 169th associate justice has, however, remained. Alas, she has “dissented” — for the last time.
YVETTE SAN LUIS-PETROCELLI
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