The ouster of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno through this unprecendented landmark decision, does more harm than good to judicial integrity in the Philippines and its democratic institutions. As such, we the members of the Ateneo de Davao University join many other freedom-loving Filipinos in expressing our dissent against the decision of the Supreme Court to remove a chief magistrate via a Quo Warranto procedure.

We reiterate our strong belief that a sitting justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice in this case, may only be removed through the Constitutional process of impeachment. Only the Senate assembled as an impeachment court has the sole authority to discharge the Chief Justice of his/her duties on grounds provided by the 1987 Constitution.

With this decision, the separation of powers of our democratic government is under fire. Fidelity to the constitution had been challenged. It is anomalous when accusers eventually change hats and become the judges who will decide the outcome of the case. This raises issues of partiality and the Supreme Court is now perceived as renouncing its solemn duty to defend the Constitution, leaving it in mortal peril.

If democracy in the country needs to be protected, the Constitution through the Supreme Court must be insulated from any political or partisan encroachments. The helpless victim in this decision is the fundamental law of our land and ultimately, the Filipino people. The normative supremacy of the Constitution is compromised when its guardians fall short of their lawful duties.

But this supremacy is immaterial in the absence of judicial independence. Without judicial independence, there will be no rule of law. Without rule of law, the entire collective of democratic institutions will fall apart. This makes the consolidation of democracy in the country even more remotely impossible when constitutional processes are bypassed in favor of shorter, quicker, and questionable routes.

While dubbed as the final arbiter, or the court of last resort, the Supreme Court and its decisions is not necessarily free from human fallibility.  The removal of CJ Sereno is no exemption.  Therefore, we reject this decision of the Supreme Court and call for its reconsideration, guided by the principles of justice and fair play.

When the vanguard of justice commits a historical feat of injustice which effects will span decades of generations down the line, who shall correct the wrong?  It is conscience.

It is conscience that promotes the rule of law protected by the constitution that should guide the justices in reconsidering the decision in favor of following the impeachment route.  It is conscience that adheres to the tenets of justice above law that must set the frame in reviewing the decision.  It is conscience, embracing constitutionalism and judicial independence, that must inform the decision of every magistrate who sits in the lofty bench of judicial power.

It is conscience that compels us to express dissent. It is conscience that moves us to call for a reconsideration of the decision so that the Constitution remains the supreme law of the land.

As we manifest our dissent, we also call for circles of discernment within the university community to rationally discuss the myriad of issues surrounding the removal of former Chief Justice Sereno and its implications on our institutions of government. We deserve public officers not swayed by party alliances but whose loyalty remain to the sovereign Filipino people.

We dissent so that we may ascend towards our collective dream to build “a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace.” (Preamble, 1987 Constitution)

 

Administrators, faculty, and staff of the Ateneo de Davao University who have assented to the statement:

Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J.
President

 

Abraham Garcia, Jr.

Alma Raymonda S. Bartolata

Annaliza L. Magno

Anne Mae Manga

Anthony Polistico

Arnella Francis Clamor

Ayessa Velasquez

Bernie Jereza

Carmela Marie M. Santos

Fr. David John M. de los Reyes, SJ

Fr. Michael I Pineda, SJ

Gail Ilagan

Gracielle Deanne Tubera

Janice M. Bajo

Jeremy Eliab

Jerome A. Serrano

Jesus A. Montajes

Judith D. Dalagan

Leah H. Vidal

lenore Loqueloque

Liza R. Lao

Ma Cristina De Las Llagas

 

Manuel P. Quibod

Maria Carmel J. Tabinas

Mark Paul Samante

Michael Aaron Gomez

Mr. Ricardo P. Enriquez

Neil John Sumalinog

Nerissa D.R. Quitain

Nimfa N. Mole

Noli Ayo

Ottoman Montani Jr.

Patria V. Manalaysay

Perpy C. Tio

Pop Libron

Raul Vincent Lumapas

Rhodora Ranalan

Rosalia C. Pabres

Rosalinda Tomas

Silvena Erika Navaja

Sol Demetillar

Suzanne Marie A. Doromal

Suzette D. Alino

Vinci Bueza