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de Jesus, Kim Michael G.

Agrarian Law and Social Legislations


11780320 Atty. Kristine Eugenio-Dacuyan

Re: The Use Of The Remedy Of Quo Warranto Proceeding By the Solicitor General On Behalf Of The Republic
Of The Philippines For The Ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The quo warranto petition by the Solicitor General is anchored mainly on the arguendo that the non-submission of
the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno prior to her nomination for
the position of Chief Justiceship. From this, the Solicitor General further hinges on two arguments. The first, that the
Chief Justice is unlawfully holding her position, pursuant to Rule 66 of the Rules of Court. Second, that the action for
quo warranto is imprescriptible.

I. Non-submission of Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.

I believe that the non-submission of the Chief Justice’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth is a
mere irregularity and does not constitute a grave offense especially when the Judicial Bar council waived this
rule. Such action from the JBC did act favorably for her, because she was still shortlisted by the Council
which was submitted to then President Benigno Aquino III for the position of Chief Justice.

The Supreme Court cannot nullify any appointment made by the President to the position of the member of
the Judiciary on the ground that the appointee is not a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and
independence. That is no longer within the matters of any judicial controversy, for it involves a political
question, to which the appointing power is accountable only to his conscience and to the bar of public opinion.
The highly subjective requirements of competence, integrity, probity and independence is addressed to the
sound discretion of the Judicial and Bar Council, in the discharge of its primary function of recommending
appointees to the Judiciary, and to the President, in the exercise of its appointing power. The exercise of such
discretion is beyond judicial review.

II. Respondent is a de facto public officer who can be ousted through a quo warranto proceeding

The Solicitor General have cited several cases in its substantive facts that a proper remedy to remove a person
who unlawfully holds or exercises a public office or position is a quo warranto proceeding but failed to show
that these cases were to that of the position or at least to the level of the Chief Justice. Since the burden of
proof to claim that the proper remedy to remove Chief Justice Sereno is a quo warranto proceeding and not
an impeachment proceeding lies on the State, the Solicitor General must strictly cite cases that showcase a
more fitting pattern in the case at hand. It is not within the power of the Solicitor General to interpret the
laws. I believe that the Solicitor failed to cite such cases when he cited:

“That the said Julio Agcaoili was appointed as justice of the peace of the municipality of Laoag, of the
Province of Ilocos Norte, by His Excellency, Francis Burton Harrison, on the 25th day of March, 1916, with
authority "to have and to hold the said office with all the powers, privileges, and emoluments thereunto of
right appertaining unto him, subject to the conditions prescribed by law.”1

The decision in Agcaoili should not be applicable to the case at bar as the position of Justice of Peace is
clearly not in the equal footing with the position of Chief Justice.
“Dennis A. B. Funa challenges the constitutionality of the appointment of Reynaldo A. Villar as Chairman
of the Commission on Audit and accordingly prays that a judgment issue declaring the unconstitutionality of
the appointment.”2

The ruling in the Villar case that an impeachable officer can be ousted through a quo warranto proceeding
cannot possibly be a legal basis as the position is for the Commissionership for the Commission On Audit.

1
Agcaoili vs. Suguitan
2
Funa vs. Villar

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The said appointment by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Villar to a full 7 year term was in valid
because it would disrupt the timetable of the terms of Commissioners (Commission on Elections and Civil
Service Commission) which the framers of the 1987 Constitution intended not to be simultaneously be vacant
when the term for such posts ends.

III. Quo warranto proceeding being imprescriptible

5. The suit is seasonably filed. To be sure, Section11, Rule 66 of the Rules of Court provides that “a petition
for quo warranto against a public officer or employee shall be filed within one year after the cause of his
ouster, or the right of the petitioner to hold such office or position, arose.” This limitation, however, does
not apply to the petitioner. It has an imprescriptible right to bring a quo warranto petition under the maxim
nullum tempus occurit regi which means, “no time runs against the king.”

The rationale behind the prescription of actions is to suppress fraudulent and stale claims from springing up
at great distances of time when all the proper vouchers and evidence are lost or the facts have become
obscure from the lapse of time or defective memory or death or removal of witnesses.3

I disagree with the Solicitor General when he claimed that the action for the quo warranto proceeding does
not prescribe. Coming from the argument that the position is only filled in the manner of appointment and is
ousted by the manner of impeachment proceeding, I believe that there is no question as to the prescription of
such action as it is not the correct remedy to oust the Chief Justice.

Considering the circumstances surrounding Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s appointment, I believe that she can
only be removed from office through impeachment and the Senate is vested with the sole power to decide if there is
indeed an impeachable offense. If the Supreme Court removes the Chief Justice for reasons other than serious and
explicit violations of the Constitution then the Court undeniably usurps the functions exclusively reserved by the
Constitution to the Senate and is therefore a clear violation of the check and balance as they belong to the same branch.

Moreover, if this quo warranto proceeding shall prosper then this equips the Solicitor General, on behalf of the Chief
Executive, of a sword wielded over the heads of the magistrates and place them under his mercy for whatever purpose
he may have. This was clearly not intended by the framers of our Constitution. The quo warranto proceeding is an
outrage against our Constitutional System and should’ve been dismissed outright when it was filed.

Resources:
1. Agcaoili v. Suguitan, G.R. No. L-24806, February 13,
1926, 48 Phil. 676 (1926)
2. Funa v. Villar, G.R. No. 192791, April 24,
2012, 670 SCRA 579 (2012)
3. Republic v. Sereno G.R. No. 237428, April 3,
2018

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Republic of the Philippines represented by the Solicitor General vs. Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno

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