Sereno sup­port­ers ask ‘Bi­ased 5’ to re­sign from SC

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By EDU PUNAY

A multi-sec­tor group sup­port­ing Chief Jus­tice Maria Lour­des Sereno yes­ter­day called for the res­ig­na­tion of five Supreme Court (SC) mag­is­trates who re­fused to in­hibit them­selves from the quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion that seeks her ouster from the top ju­di­cial post.

About 300 mem­bers of the Coali­tion For Jus­tice trooped to the SC along Padre Faura street in Manila, car­ry­ing plac­ards that bore the faces of As­so­ciate Jus­tices Tere­sita de Cas­tro, Dios­dado Per­alta, Lu­cas Ber­samin, Noel Ti­jam and Fran­cis Jardeleza to demon­strate their call.

“We call on the SC to honor its own Code and in­stantly com­pel the in­hi­bi­tion of the ‘Bi­ased 5.’ If the Bi­ased 5 will not in­hibit, we adamantly in­sist that they re­sign. We de­mand that the high­est court of the land prove to the Filipino peo­ple its re­spect for the Con­sti­tu­tion and its own rul­ings. Jus­tices, ob­serve the law you are sworn to serve,” the group said in a state­ment.

It al­leged that the Court is “re­pu­di­at­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion it is man­dated to de­fend” and also “dis­dains its own rul­ings and ig­nores the Code that sets the eth­i­cal bar for mag­is­trates” by en­ter­tain­ing the quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion filed by Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Jose Cal­ida to chal­lenge the va­lid­ity of Sereno’s ap­point­ment as chief jus­tice in 2012.

“Its un­seemly con­duct in these quo war­ranto pro­ceed­ings griev­ously tar­nishes its le­git­i­macy as a dis­penser of jus­tice. If it fa­vors the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral, its rul­ing shall not only be il­le­gal and void, it shall also crit­i­cally jeop­ar­dize ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence as well as its own in­sti­tu­tional in­tegrity,” the group claimed.

Sereno ear­lier asked the five jus­tices to in­hibit from the pe­ti­tion, cit­ing their al­leged bi­ases af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing against her in the impeachment pro­ceed­ings in Congress.

Dur­ing oral ar­gu­ments on the case in Baguio City last April 11, act­ing Chief Jus­tice An­to­nio Car­pio an­nounced the de­nial of all five of Sereno’s mo­tions for in­hi­bi­tion for lack of merit. But he did not ex­plain the rea­sons for the de­nial and said they would just be in­cluded in the de­ci­sion and opin­ions of the Court.

A spokesper­son for Sereno had ex­pressed fear that the Court may not be able to fairly reach a de­ci­sion on Cal­ida’s pe­ti­tion given the non-in­hi­bi­tion of the five mag­is­trates.

Mean­while, the Move­ment Against Tyranny, an­other pro-Sereno group, yes­ter­day called on SC jus­tices not to be in­stru­ments of “Duterte’s tyranny” as it in­sisted that the quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion was “a bla­tant short­cut that tram­ples upon the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

“The jus­tices of the Court should re­al­ize by now that the quo war­ranto case is just plan B. Duterte is hop­ing to pit the jus­tices against each other, us­ing their per­sonal an­i­mosi­ties and am­bi­tions, to get what he wants: ab­so­lute con­trol of the ju­di­ciary,” the group al­leged in a state­ment.

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