According to the Constitution, impeachment is NOT the only way CJ Sereno can be removed from office



Why are some people so sure that Supreme Court justices can be removed only by impeachment? Art. xi.2 merely mentions one mode of removal, hence “may be removed from office, on impeachment”. Note the presence of the word “may” (in the 1935 and 1973 constitutions it was “shall”) but the absence of the word “only”. The language thereof doesn’t preclude other modes of removal.

Art. viii.11 states that a justice stays in office “during good behavior until they reached the age of seventy years or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office.” That’s suggestive of three different and other modes of separation from office there.

Then there’s Art. viii.7.3, which can be interpreted as a continuing requirement. to insist in the impeachment only argument is to make art. viii provisions inutile.

Even the president can be removed by modes other than impeachment: Art. vii is replete with alternative modes, including the cabinet getting rid of the president by way of Art. vii.11. if memory serves, people (some later becoming noynoy cabinet members) tried that with GMA.

Finally, the argument is made that removal of a justice by quo warranto is not provided for in the Constitution. You know what else is not provided for in the Constitution that can cause a justice’s separation from office? Resignation and death. Yet both are commonsensically proper grounds.

Quo warranto can be arguably considered because it speaks to the manner of obtaining the office. If the president, for example, does not follow proper process or qualifications in appointing a justice, impeachment cannot be the proper method of removal as the questionable acts were done not by the office holder but by the appointer.

Finally, no express provision in the Constitution actually prohibits quo warranto against an SC justice.

All of these are within the ambit of the Constitution. So to say that the constitutional process must be followed, then such should include all the foregoing.


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Jemy Gatdula as posted on Facebook.

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