Prepare for a “judicial self-coup” — at the very least an attempt of it
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Prepare for a “judicial self-coup”
— at the very least an attempt of it
If the sources of ABS-CBN (by reporter Ina Reformina) and GMA News (by reporter Joseph Morong) are accurate, the Supreme Court en banc and Chief Justice Meilou Sereno resolved yesterday that she would go on an indefinite leave – HOWEVER, the spokesperson of CJ Sereno had clarified hours after the en banc that she would merely file an application for a 15-day “wellness leave” to prepare for trial. Today, we’ll know for sure whether the CJ would go on an indefinite leave or a 15-day- (or longer) “wellness leave”, as the application has to be made in writing. An indefinite leave, not being time-bound, and not being provided for under civil service rules (except the Magna Carta for Teachers which sets it at one year) creates an indefinite vacancy. An indefinite vacancy creates an indefinite vacuum that would prejudice judicial functions. An indefinite leave therefore, creating an indefinite vacancy and vacuum, would be used by Malacañang, to announce the search for a new Chief Justice following the rules that created the JBC. A 15-day or limited “wellness leave”, if the sources of ABS-CBN and GMA News are accurate, was not agreed upon en banc or was not agreed to by 10 of the 15 justices — who had threatened to call for the resignation of the CJ publicly. Today, we’ll know for sure. We’ll also know for sure whether the ten justices would make good their threat. A statement from the ten justices calling for the resignation of the CJ would be a political act, unless it carries with it evidentiary matters of first-hand testimonies and documents that the justices are willing to attest to in an impeachment court – in which case, it would have legal effect, as evidence (if it does contain evidence). Other than that, being a political act, its nature is persuasive, i.e., not legally binding on the impeachment court that may be convened in July. It would be embarrassing, though, for the Chief Justice should her Court call for her resignation. (perhaps it had ceased being her Court long before). A forced indefinite leave of the CJ, resulting in an indefinite vacancy, is a judicial coup, or — to be more precise — a judicial coup against its own self, if ever there was one – a self-coup! or a judicial self-coup! or a self-judicial-coup! … Or a selfie coup.