MANILA – House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday said the Supreme Court may oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno should it be proven that her appointment as top magistrate was invalid.
The validity of Sereno’s appointment as Chief Justice in 2012 was earlier raised after the House justice committee hearing the impeachment complaint against her found that she had failed to submit all her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) when she applied for the post.
“Impeachment presupposes a valid appointment. Kung hindi ka nag-comply sa requisites for that position, is the appointment valid?” Alvarez told House reporters.
“‘Pag valid ‘yung appointment, talagang Congress lang ang puwede magtanggal through impeachment,” he said.
Alvarez said the Solicitor General should file a case before the high court to determine the validity of Sereno’s appointment.
“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.
But Alvarez said impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice would proceed even if her appointment is questioned before the high court.
“Magkaibang issue ito. Tuloy pa rin ang impeachment pero puwede ring kuwestiyonin ang validity nito,” Alvarez said.
Sereno was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2012, months after then Chief Justice Renato Corona was ousted for undeclared wealth.
On Monday, Aquino said he appointed Sereno because she was included in the shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
On Wednesday, Sereno announced that she would go on indefinite leave to prepare for her upcoming impeachment trial at the Senate.