The position taken by the President of Ateneo de Manila University, Fr. Jose Ramon Vallarin, is pathetic and distasteful. It is distasteful because even if we take it that he is right, that the proper law that should be applied against the embattled Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is impeachment, and not quo warranto, still this column insists that he is downright wrong. As an individual citizen, he is not a taxpayer, and so with the organization he represents. Common sense dictates that he who does not contribute to the building and maintenance of an orderly society should refrain from opening his mouth affecting governmental affairs.
This observation is not an attempt to deprive him of his freedom of speech, but more of ethics. When one accepts the privilege of being exempted from the payment of tax, decency dictates that he should be ready to put limitations to his freedom such as his right to freely open his mouth on issues of politics. The vow of non-interference in politics is the reason why the state acceded in not taxing the Church. The cleric should understand that the exemption is to allow the Church to exercise its spiritual obligation to our people.
The anachronistic position taken by Villarin is that that if ever Chief Justice Sereno should be removed from office, it should be done by the legal process of impeachment, and not by quo warranto. His supposition is logically flawed. There is in his argument an implication that indeed she committed wrongdoins. Whether that wrongdoing happened before she was appointed or after she assumed office is beside the point.
If Villarin truly believes Sereno did not commit any wrongdoing, he should take the position to demand the quashal of the case against his surrogate on the firm belief she is not guilty of any of the accusations against her. Both are legal processes to remove a public official from office, one declaring her guilty of the charge, the other declaring her a usurper.
In that, one could see that Villarin is playing politics. This is obvious in his statement when he suggested “that the Supreme Court justices to pause and discern carefully the damage their action have inflicted on themselves and on the whole of our democratic society.”
This priest should know that his suggestion by itself is a political process, meaning that the accused can only be removed not by the evidence of guilt but by the required number of votes to be cast against her by the members of the Senate sitting as an impeachment court. The gang of Villarin in the then Yellow-controlled Senate that mauled the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, Jr. out of office was instigated by that hypocritically corrupt B.S Aquino government. They even have to grease the Senate impeachment court in millions of pesos to get the required two thirds to remove him.
Did this loud-mouthed cleric extend his active and moral support to the beleaguered chief justice despite his being an illustrious alumnus and professor of Ateneo?
Article XI, Section 3 (6) of the Cory Constitution was purposely formulated by them to become a political process. There is politics between those who seek to remove Sereno, and those who want to retain her. I can only guess that those who want her out of office do not have the required number of votes, not majority, to remove her, which reason why they choose the legal process called “quo warranto.” Strictly speaking Sereno could not be accused of violating the exercise of her powers as Chief Justice because she never validly assumed that office. Any decision to keep her is politics, like manner those who want her out both goaded by the same interest called “politics.”
Maybe the removal of our high officials for culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes or for betrayal of public trust under Article XI, Section 2, have all been politicized because the hypocrites, in their attempt to perfect our already dilapidated democracy converted the judicial process to one of a democratic process where every clown in this God-forsaken land will have a role to play. Villarin is now playing and living up to that role of a political clown by pretending to do justice to his political henchman.
We were not stunned when Solicitor General Jose Calida applied a uniquely different approach to remove Sereno from the roster of justices. By all indication, she is not qualified for the office. In fact, removing Sereno by quo warranto is a finer process than by the roughshod process of impeachment. Since it will be her colleagues that will decide her fate, we can give them the benefit of the doubt that they will not be pressured by any form of loyalty to their constituents but solely guided on what is provided by law.
Quo warranto cannot even proceed to declare her guilty. The remedy sought is a mere special proceedings. Simply stated, she is merely asked to vacate although none of her possible accusers could be precluded from taking direct action against her for violating the law like her failure to file her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. That decision would simply put to an end her styling as chief justice to a collegial body where most of her peers are old enough to be her father and mother.
Probably, when Noynoy Aquino appointed Sereno, he had in mind the idea of putting a young chief justice even if that would brazenly violate the judicial protocol of seniority to effectively block, delay or even dismiss any case that may be brought against him by President Duterte for entire term while the latter is in office. Unfortunately, the street-smart Digong is much smarter than his predecessor to conceive the idea of kicking her out sideways.