By KIMBERLIE NGABIT QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY— Progressive groups based in Baguio City staged an indignation rally at Malcolm Square on May 11 to protest the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno following a Supreme Court en banc decision granting the quo warranto petition of Solicitor General Jose Calida. They said this was the last ingredient to complete the Duterte administration’s tyrannical recipe.
Windel Bolinget, chair of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) said that the ouster of Sereno was the “last nail on the coffin of democracy”. He added that it was the last ingredient for a dictatorial rule.
Bolinget explained that the Supreme Court’s role is to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law but with its decision granting the quo warranto petition showed that it has become a legal tool “to coerce all forms of opposition and dissent”.
Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding, of the Movement against Tyranny (MAT) said the administration did not forgive Sereno, who was among the first people to criticize the government’s war on drugs. She added that President Rodrigo Duterte himself declared that Sereno was his enemy, proving that he orchestrated the ouster of the later.
Another rally participant Beng Garcia, of the Coalition of Justice, said removing an impeachable official like Sereno through a quo warranto proceeding should concern everyone. “If a Chief Justice could be ousted unconstitutionally, how much more the ordinary people,” she said.
“The eight colluding justices are the best examples of what lawyers should not be,” Garcia added, referring to the justices who voted in favor of the quo warranto petition namely Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Samuel Martires, Francis Jardeleza, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, and Noel Tijam.
Garcia urged everybody to join the protests and defend democracy.
Cawiding said that the fight to defend democracy will not end with the ouster of Sereno. “The fight does not end here, it will continue and it will intensify,” she said.
“The eight justices who sold their souls will be judged by the people’s court. The people’s court is the highest court of the land. The people are more powerful than the president,” Bolinget said
He said that the fight is not yet over saying that the people should work together to create a judiciary that will truly uphold justice and a government that will serve the people.
Anakbayan-Ilocos, in a statement condemned the SC for granting the quo warranto petition. The youth group urged Sereno to join the people protest against injustice and defend democracy.
While preparing for their final exams, law students of Baguio were saddened when the news of the ouster of Sereno broke. Jerry Gittabao the incoming University of Baguio School of Law Governor said that the granting of the quo waranto petition against a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, only enslaved the Judiciary by its fellow co-equal branch, the executive.
“The granting of a Quo Waranto demolished the key foundations of Philippine democracy built to ward-off evils of authoritarian rule,” said Gittabao. He added that the Quo Waranto against the Chief Justice is a blow against Judicial Independence and the constitutional system of Check and Balances of the three branches of government. “We salute the six justices who have dissented against the Quo Waranto petition of Solicitor General Calida”, said Gittabao. The six Justices according to Gittabao are the inspirations they need for them to pursue and finish our chosen noble profession. “Supreme court is the last bastion of truth, justice and democracy. It holds no space for bias, corrupted, and politically-driven Justices”, said Gittabao
In a text message Abdiel Dan Elijah S. Fajardo, IBP national president said they are still waiting for an official copy of the SC decision on the quo warranto case and that they are looking towards seeking for a reversal.
“This is pursuant to our position that only the Senate assembled as an impeachment court, has the power to dismiss an incumbent Justice of the Supreme Court on questions pertaining to his or her alleged lack of integrity,” Fajardo said. # nordis.net