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SC to turn 'red' Friday

The Supreme Court (SC) will turn into a “sea of red” on Friday for the special en banc session that is expected to tackle the quo warranto petition filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

This was bared by the Supreme Court Employees Association (SCEA) on Thursday as it called on members to wear red from Thursday until Friday.

“Papulahin ang Korte Suprema at ang Padre Faura sa Biyernes, Mayo 11, 2018. Itampok ang ating pagkakaisa laban sa kasinungalingan at pagsira sa integridad ng ating mahal na institusyon -- ang Kataas-taasang Hukuman. Idalangin ang desisyon ng ating mga mahistrado ay naaayon sa Katotohanan at Kabutihan ng Korte Suprema, Hudikatura at ng buong sambayanang Pilipino. (Turn the Supreme Court and Padre Faura into red on Friday, May 11, 2018. Show our unity against falsehood and the destruction of our beloved institution -- the High Court. Pray that the decision of our magistrates would be aligned with the truth and welfare of the Supreme Court, the judiciary and the Filipino people)” the SCEA said in a statement released Thursday.

On Thursday, red ribbons were tied at the SC compound's gates while some employees wore red.

During Monday’s flag ceremony, SC officials and employees also donned red clothes to reiterate their call for Sereno to resign.

Philippine Judges Association (PJA) president Judge Felix Reyes and SC Employees Association (SCEA) president Erwin Ocson were spotted wearing red.

"This is to show our collective action to show the truth and pursue reform in the Supreme Court and the judiciary," the group said.

The organizations cited "demoralization" among their ranks, noting that the impeachment proceedings against Sereno had placed the “entire judiciary in disrepute, thereby affecting the honor and integrity” of the magistrates and judges.

Ocson said they have other issues that have not been addressed by Sereno since she assumed the top judicial post in 2012, but he did not discuss them due to the sub judice rule that applies to the pending quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against her before the SC.

“The real reasons behind this are the acts and policies of the Chief Justice which really (adversely) affected the employees," he explained.

Both PJA and SCEA have earlier issued a joint manifesto calling for the resignation of Sereno "to give the entire judiciary the opportunity to move forward and get back to order."

Law deans, profs: Impeachment sole legal method to oust Sereno

Meanwhile, deans and professors representing various law schools in the country are pushing for Sereno’s trial at the Senate impeachment court, expressing deep concern over the attempt to oust the top magistrate through quo warranto -- the same extrajudicial process that could potentially face any sitting justice and endanger judicial independence.

“We, members of the law faculties, express our deep concern at the move to unseat the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by means other than by impeachment,” said in a manifesto entitled “A Call for Adherence to Constitutional Process”, signed by more than 130 law school deans and professors.

“We are not questioning the motivation, integrity and patriotism of anyone involved in this process but we must remind them that the integrity of the process is as important as its result,” read the manifesto that was published in a newspaper on Thursday.

According to the signatories, they have been taught in law school that the Constitution provides only one means to remove a sitting Chief Justice and that is by impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction after trial in the Senate.

“Any other means would be unconstitutional,” they pointed out. “It will expose those involved in the same vicious cycle of extrajudicial removal process, which will subvert the constitutional check and balance and endanger judicial independence.”

As such, the signatories called for the start of Sereno’s impeachment trial in the Senate, where she finally gets a chance to defend herself from the allegations against her.

“Let the impeachment of the Chief Justice take its course as the Constitution dictates. Let the trial in the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, begin. Allow the Chief Justice to defend herself in the impeachment trial,” they said.

The signatories include former solicitor general Florin Hilbay; Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) Graduate School of Law Dean and retired Court of Appeals Justice Hector Hofileña; De La Salle College of Law Dean Jose Manuel Diokno; Lyceum College of Law Dean Maria Soledad Derequito-Mawis; Adamson College of Law Dean Anna Maria Abad; Far Eastern University Institute of Law Dean Melencio Sta. Maria; and Ateneo de Davao University College of Law Dean Manuel Quibod.

Former University of the Philippines College of Law dean Pacifico Agabin, former Ateneo School of Government dean Tony Laviña, PLM College of Law Dean Marisol Anenias, University of San Agustin College of Law Dean Jose Mari Tirol, and law deans and professors from Metro Manila and the cities of Baguio, Butuan, Cotabato, and Davao also signed the manifesto.

Sereno on Wednesday returned to the Supreme Court for the first time since she went on indefinite leave last March 1.

She said she would attend Friday’s Supreme Court (SC) special en banc session, stressing that she is also ready to face the impeachment complaint filed against her after completing her preparations.

Atty. Carlo Cruz, one of Sereno’s spokespersons, said Sereno is ready to preside over the special en banc session on Friday where the quo warranto petition is expected to be tackled and resolved by the court.

If found guilty, Sereno would be the first Chief Justice to be removed from office through quo warranto proceedings.

Cruz said they would file a motion for reconsideration once the court rules in favor of the petition.

Christopher Lloyd Caliwan / PNA