Solon: Justices 'dividing' Supreme Court should resign

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14) — Some Supreme Court associate justices should resign if they feel strongly against the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, a representative from the majority, said on Monday.

Isabela Representative Rod Albano told CNN Philippines' The Source that he would like to "appeal to our justices to stop acting like politicians."

He cited the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, who slammed the decision on Friday as "seppuku without honor."

"Somebody's saying that the Supreme Court committed seppuku. Yung institution, magse-seppuku ba iyon?" said Albano.

"If you really believe that, dapat mag-resign nalang sila sa position nila, kaysa sa i-divide niya yung court," he added.

[Translation: Would the institution commit seppuku? If you really believe that, they should just resign instead of dividing the court.]

In his 64-page decision, Caguioa argued that the court had no constitutional authority to unseat its own Chief Justice, and its decision rendered the rest of the judiciary vulnerable.

"The other members of the Court... are called upon to grin and bear the unbearable as travelling this prohibited road will be at the expense and to the extreme prejudice of the independence of the entire judiciary, the independence of the Court's individual members, and the freedom of discourse within the Court," Caguioa wrote.

"This case marks the time when the court commits seppuku — without honor," he added.

Also called "harakiri," Britannica defines "seppuku" as the "honorable method of taking one's own life, practiced by men of the samurai (military) class in feudal Japan."

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide made similar remarks ahead of the ruling on Friday. He said ousting the Chief Justice would expose the rest of the court, calling it "a suicide" and "doomsday for judicial independence."

Albano's comment comes after a landmark decision where the Supreme Court voted 8-6 that the Chief Justice's appointment was invalid.

The quo warranto petition was filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida and was one of two ouster efforts against Sereno. The second is an impeachment underway in Congress.

Granting the petition is highly contested, as senators and many in the legal community maintain that impeachment is the only way to unseat a Chief Justice.

Another dissenter, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, wrote in his separate opinion that the decision "[rendered] this Court subservient to an aggressive Solicitor General."

However, Albano waved off comments that the Solicitor General now wielded much power, saying Calida was not infallible.

"So walang sacred cow dito [There are no sacred cows here]," said Albano. "You just have to get all your skeletons in the past and fix it... before you get appointed to a higher position."

Albano is among representatives who endorsed the impeachment complaint against Sereno. He is also Vice Chairperson of the House Committee for Good Government and Public Accountability.

While Sereno's camp prepares to file an appeal, Albano says the House will consider the impeachment effort moot and academic.