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Home / World / [OPINION] Sereno crashes: impact on accountability

[OPINION] Sereno crashes: impact on accountability



The recent perversion of accountability drives the monopolization of executive power, undermining mutual control and possibly paving the way for dictatorship

10:00 AM, May 13, 2018

Updated 12:35 PM, May 13, 2018

The dismissal of Supreme Court Justice (SC) Justice Minister Maria Lourdes Sereno is a major blow to accountability.

Sereno was one of those who outraged the grievances of the Duterte government. The President has spruced it up as well as the opposition Senator Leila de Lima, who is now in prison.

At a press conference in April, Duterte declared that Sereno was "bad" for the country. "I'm warning you that I'm your enemy now, and you have to be in the Supreme Court," said Duterte to Sereno.

In no time, Sereno was dismissed as Chief with 8 to 6 votes Justice by the now infamous Quo Enabling Petition

The 1987 Constitution provides only one means to remove a member of the Supervisory Committee, much like the President, the Vice-President, the members of the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman. This is done by "indictment and conviction for culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal, bribery, bribery and corruption, other high crime or betrayal of public trust."

The Attorney General, who has submitted the Quo Enabling Petition, raised that the Constitution does not limit the impeachment to the removal of government officials. There could be other means, such as the inability to take a position – the premise of the Attorney-General's "quo warorialo appell". Such a petition seeks to remove entirely the appointment of the official in question on the basis of non-eligibility or not to be fit to fill the post he occupies.

But this article argues that the quo warorialo proposal is unconstitutional (19659005) Only one way: prosecution, then conviction

If the constitution wanted to provide other means to SC judges to remove, or open the question of funds, it should have said so. The provision on removal of SC judges is not open. It is in no way structured as an indefinite statement.

The provision on the removal of SC judges (including other senior officials) named only one specific remedy: impeachment, then conviction. The use of the word "may" refers to the specific means that provides or enumerates the named provision. If the use of "may" meant that what it had enumerated was only one of the possible remedies, the testimony should have been open. It should have said "and other means that madness might think of" or something (which is the "quo warando").

Since the constitution did not contain an open statement about the funds, but instead provided a specific means it is the only remedy.

More than a hundred law professors, including deans and former deans of law schools in various parts of the country, have stated this in an open statement:

"We, members of the law faculty, express our deep concern about the move to the Supreme Judges We have taught in the Quorum of Law that the Constitution provides only one means of removing a sitting Supreme Judge by impeachment by the House of Representatives and condemnation any other means would be unconstitutional. "

Impact on Accountability

Granting the" quo warando "has a dangerous impact on accountability, which also leads to deliberation The way in which we hold public officials to account.

While the proponents of the quo-warando petition may argue that such a "new mode" opens up another way to ensure the integrity of public offices, it is also an act that goes beyond what is in the constitution or the existing legal system, as I have argued above.

Going beyond what is legal is not always wrong. For example, the power of the people used by the Filipinos to eliminate two presidents – one, a dictator and another – who are facing serious allegations of corruption can be considered unconstitutional or beyond the constitution.

The extension and overcoming of the legal limits for the exact accountability of the powerful in the name of the people is progressive and must be promoted. However, there is a difference between the "quo warando" mode and the power of people to break and overcome legal boundaries.

The decision of the quo warando shifts the legal boundaries in favor of the responsibility, which is controlled by the government representatives. who determines who is eligible / qualified or not? The petition was tabled by the Advocate General and decided by the other SC judges. Such a so-called accountability exercise was left in the hands of a few.

The petition was based mainly on technical aspects that were only accessible (and probably relevant) to the rulers. In this case, it was used to settle internal disputes and partisan disputes that are common in the government. With such resources available to rulers, we expect many quo empowerment petitions in the future that are not disruptive and counterproductive, serving only those in power.

The open lawyers had also foreseen this: "It will put those involved in the same vicious circle of the extrajudicial deportation process that will undermine constitutional control and balance and jeopardize the independence of the judiciary."

Power of the people on the other hand, tends to balance the power in favor of the people. The power of the people is a means by which people can hold this power to account, especially power that is abusive and monopolistic. It was used by the Filipinos to hold their presidents to account when the existing political-legal system failed, after many abuses and human rights violations by the government against its own people.

Recent news highlights the continuing decline of the democratic order in the Philippines. The recent perversion of accountability drives the momentum of monopolizing executive power, which undermines mutual control and possibly paves the way for dictatorship.

There is also a serious warning in accountability: accountability has been the means of the people to hold power accountable, but now it is also used by rulers to stop people's divergent opinions and control over them To gain people. – Rappler.com

Joy Aceron is Convenor Director of G-Watch and Research Fellow at the Accountability Research Center of the School of International Service, American University, Washington DC.


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