The SC in a decision 8 to 6 has decided that the Quo Warranto is a legal way to disqualify a sitting SC Chief Justice. It was an interesting division of the SC in three issues: (i) Whether or not to grant the Quo Warranto petition — 8 to 6; (ii) Whether or not the Quo Warranto is the proper remedy — 9 to 5; And (iii) Whether or not respondent violated the Constitution for failure to file SALN — 9 to 0 because the other justices did not express an opinion. The consequent public discourse to a certain extent mirrors the different opinion of the divided SC. Nevertheless as in all cases it came down to the vote.
There are two narrative streams that sprung forth from the decision. Compared to the different opinions SC Justices they tend to be more stronger and the debates that results end uo preaching to their respective choirs (or echo chambers) and when the discussion becomes divergent a form of bullying and shaming happens. There are of course pearls to be found existing within the pig sty of ad hominem , straw men, propaganda and spin but you have to look for them, be critical and to a point stoic.
In this issue there are questions that will guide one through the propaganda and spin:
One. Is the failure of a public official to file the required legal documents a basis for disqualifying them from their post?
Two. Is the Quo Warranto a valid and legal means to disqualify a President, Vice President, Chief Justice and other public officials?
Three. Who will decide if this is legal and follows the Philippine Constitution of 1987 Constitution?
Four. If the decision has been reached on questions above (1 to 3) by the body tasked by the 1987 Constitution and if you do not agree to it what can you do?
Five. If you follow what is written in the 1987 Constitution is it then illegal or un-constitutional?
Under the 1987 Constitution what is the purpose and function of the Supreme Court?
Under Article VIII, §1, the judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be provided by law. This power includes the duty to settle actual controversies involving rights that are legally demandable and enforceable and to determine if any branch or instrumentality of government has acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of excess of jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction. It exercises original jurisdiction (cases are directly filed with the SC in the first instance without passing through any of the lower courts) over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus. (Art. VIII, §5(1)). It also has original jurisdiction over writs of amparo, habeas data and the environmental writ of kalikasan. It exercises appellate jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm final judgments, and orders of the lower courts in:
(a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question.
(b) All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any penalty imposed in relation thereto.
(c) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue.
(d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.
(e) All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved. (Art. VIII, §5(1), (2))
The Supreme Court has administrative supervision over all courts and court personnel. (Article VIII, §6) It exercises this power through the Office of the Court Administrator.