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4. Impeachment

a. MODE OF REMOVAL

1) Impeachment

Members of the Supreme Court may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment. (Section 2, Article XI, 1987 Constitution)

2) Quo warranto proceeding

A quo warranto proceeding is the proper legal remedy to determine the right or title to the contested public office or to oust the holder from its enjoyment. In quo warranto proceedings referring to offices filled by election, what is to be determined is the eligibility of the candidates elected, while in quo warranto proceedings referring to offices filled by appointment, what is determined is the legality of the appointment. (Republic v. Sereno, En Banc, G.R. No. 237428, 19 June 2018)

3) Impeachment v. quo warranto

While both impeachment and quo warranto may result in the ouster of the public official, the two proceedings materially differ. At its most basic, impeachment proceedings are political in nature, while an action for quo warranto is judicial or a proceeding traditionally lodged in the courts. (Ibid.)

Impeachment is a proceeding exercised by the legislative, as representatives of the sovereign, to vindicate the breach of the trust reposed by the people in the hands of the public officer by determining the public officer’s fitness to stay in the office. Meanwhile, an action for quo warranto, involves a judicial determination of the eligibility or validity of the election or appointment of a public official based on predetermined rules. (Ibid.)

a) May proceed separately

Quo warranto and impeachment may proceed independently of each other as these remedies are distinct as to (1) jurisdiction (2) grounds, (3) applicable rules pertaining to initiation, filing and dismissal, and (4) limitations. (Ibid.)

The causes of action in the two proceedings are unequivocally different. In quo warranto, the cause of action lies on the usurping, intruding, or unlawfully holding or exercising of a public office, while in impeachment, it is the commission of an impeachable offense. (Ibid.)

Likewise, the reliefs sought in the two proceedings are different. Under the Rules on quo warranto, “when the respondent is found guilty of usurping, intruding into, or unlawfully holding or exercising a public office… judgment shall be rendered that such respondent be ousted and altogether excluded therefrom…” In short, respondent in a quo warranto proceeding shall be adjudged to cease from holding a public office, which he/she is ineligible to hold. On the other hand, in impeachment, a conviction for the charges of impeachable offenses shall result to the removal of the respondent from the public office that he/she is legally holding.  It is not legally possible to impeach or remove a person from an office that he/she, in the first place, does not and cannot legally hold or occupy. (Ibid.)

The remedies available in a quo warranto judgment do not include correction or reversal of acts taken under the ostensible authority of an office or franchise. Judgment is limited to ouster or forfeiture and may not be imposed retroactively upon prior exercise of official or corporate duties. (Ibid.)

Quo warranto and impeachment are, thus, not mutually exclusive remedies and may even proceed simultaneously. The existence of other remedies against the usurper does not prevent the State from commencing a quo warranto proceeding. (Ibid.)

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