Gadon calls to invalidate appointment of CJ Sereno: "the chief justice was not qualified for the position."

Invalidate Sereno’s appointment!

That is the call of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno accuser to the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

The call was brought about following the statement given by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez a few days back. Alvarez said that the Supreme Court may oust the top magistrate should it be proven that her appointment for the Chief Justice was invalid from the very beginning.  

"Impeachment presupposes a valid appointment. Kung hindi ka nag-comply sa requisites for that position, is the appointment valid?" Alvarez told House of representatives reporters.

"'Pag valid 'yung appointment, talagang Congress lang ang puwede magtanggal through impeachment," Alvarez said.

The speaker intimated that the Solicitor General should file a case before the Supreme Court to determine the validity of Sereno’s appointment as Chief Justice.

"Wala sa Constitution 'yun (mag-file sa Supreme Court to question validity) pero accepted practice 'yan sa legal practice. 'Yung validity ng kontrata, ang talagang may jurisdiction dun ay ang SC (Supreme Court)," Alvarez said.

Atty. Gadon states his ground that the Supreme Court being the court of last resort has supervision over the actions of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body that vets and shortlists applicants to the judiciary. It is from that short list prepared by the JBC  the President picks his appointments to fill the vacant slots in the SC.

Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III appointed Sereno as Chief Justice in 2012 following the Aquino administration’s ouster of the late chief magistrate Renato Corona, who was impeached for undeclared wealth.

The appointment of Sereno was unprecedented since it broke the tradition of appointing the most senior  SC Justice and the length of term for Sereno would be up until 2030- a record setting eighteen (18) years.   

Gadon intimated that the hearings in the House “has led to the discovery that [the] chief justice was not qualified for the position."

"It was established that she has not passed the substantial compliance on submission of at least ten (10) years of SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth). This fact has rendered her appointment by the Office of the President as void ab initio as it was an appointment done out of fraud," Atty. Gadon said.

Yesterday, the Chief Justice has started with her indefinite leave which will be spent in preparing and strategizing for the imminent impeachment trial in the Senate.

"While arguably the position of Chief Justice is removable through the process of impeachment, this, however, presupposes the condition that the removal is anchored on grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust , graft and corruption and other high crimes, all of which likewise pre-supposes a condition that is supervening after the appointment. Fraud to secure appointment is different," Gadon added.

Gadon reason out that the Supreme Court, which "has control and supervision of the Judicial and Bar Council and the final interpreter of the laws," can revoke Sereno's appointment on the following grounds:

  • The appointment is void ab initio for failure to submit even the minimum substantial compliance of 10 years SALN; 

  • Many government officials and employees of lower ranks have been dismissed from government service with perpetual disqualification to hold public office because of non-submission or untruthful declaration of SALN;

  • If not revoked, the appointment will set a dangerous precedent of incomparable atrocious legal consequence that is tantamount to an admission that our ideals of good governance have gone to the gutters of perdition.

"It should be established in our jurisprudence that even for the position of impeachable officers, if the ground for revocation is fraud to secure the appointment perpetrated with most despicable malicious intent, the appointment can be legally revoked," Gadon said.

"For purposes of argument, setting aside the involvement of Sereno as an object, given the political nature of an impeachment proceeding in general, I shudder on the thought of a grim scenario wherein the House and the Senate would refuse to remove and convict an impeachable official even in the face of strong evidence of fraud. The effect then would be a total damnation of the rule of law and a wholesale wastage of all the legal principles, wisdom of good governance and all the ideals of a civilized society," he added.

"This is because we will consequently and consciously establish a principle that an act tainted with malicious and illegal fraud can be condoned just because of the consequence of a political nature of impeachment proceeding," Atty. Gadon said.   

Unless  Chief Justice Sereno’s failure to comply with the basic submission of  SALNs is checked, other officials of government and employees can use it as an excuse to misdeclare or not file their SALNs, Gadon explained.

"As a lawyer, I am deeply concerned of a theoretical scenario in the future where the President of the Republic uses his immense power and appoint an official that is cloaked and tainted with fraud and, thereafter, such official cannot be removed simply because the House and the Senate are controlled by political or economic interests," he said.

Source: ABS CBN

Post a Comment