The Philippine Supreme Court on Friday ousted its own chief justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno, a prominent critic of the country's president, in an unprecedented vote by her fellow magistrates.
Voting 8-6, the SC en banc favored the Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petition, voiding the appointment of Sereno. "The position of the Chief Justice is declared vacant", Te said, quoting the SC dispositive decision.
The Rules of Court define quo warranto as an action by the government against a person who unlawfully holds public office or holds a position which he/she is not qualified.
Atty. Larry Gadon filed the second impeachment complaint against Sereno also at the House.
One opposition party said the ousting of Sereno removed a shield against abuse of power in government and left behind a "puppet Supreme Court".
Sereno's lawyers said they will file a motion to reconsider the decision.
Meanwhile, those who dissented were Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., Mariano C. Del Castillo, Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, Marvic F. Leonen, and Alfredo S. Caguioa.
After the SC's official announcement of the ruling, Sereno immediately stepped out of the SC building and spoke to her supporters.
MALACAÑANG, which has been publicly at odds with Sereno, only said the public should respect the SC decision.
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Legal experts pointed out that under the Constitution, all impeachable officials like the president, vice president and chief justice as well as heads of constitutional offices like the Commission on Elections, Office of the Ombudsman and Commission on Audit are to be dismissed only after undergoing an impeachment trial with the Senate sitting as the impeachment court.
Not contented from her ouster, the SC also issued a show cause order requiring her why she should not be penalized for supposedly violating Code of Professional Responsibility and Code of Judicial Conduct "for transgressing the subjudice rule and for casting aspersions and ill motives to the members of the Supreme Court". "The Supreme Court, which is supposed to be the cradle of our fragile Constitution, is the same body that killed it", Trillanes said in a statement.
"The people should express to the court that the decision was wrong and unacceptable".
"I do not know why some of them voted that way".
Duterte's spokesman released a statement saying: 'The High Court has spoken.
Sereno angered Duterte after she disagreed with his efforts to take action against judges authorities linked to illegal drugs in 2016, saying the Supreme Court should be the one to punish erring judges. But there are still some lawmakers calling for the impeachment to proceed independently from the Supreme Court.
The powerful Committee on Justice in the House of Representatives earlier recommended the impeachment of Sereno after several hearings for alleged unexplained wealth and betrayal of public trust, among others.
Sereno has been insisting that, under the Constitution, she can only be ousted through impeachment proceedings.