Sereno calls on fellow justices to protect the Constitution by rejecting the quo warranto petition

CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno. Image ©

EMBATTLED Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno warns anew that any attempt to unseat her using means other than impeachment is tantamount to the trampling of the 1987 Constitution as she calls on her fellow justices not to allow Solicitor General Jose Calida to undermine the country’s checks and balances in the government.

“The Chief Justice thus humbly renews her call on her brethren in the Supreme Court to remain faithful to their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution, applicable law and jurisprudence,” Sereno said in a 23-page supplemental memorandum filed by her lawyers on Friday.

At the same time, Sereno reminded her colleagues to consider the “utmost necessity of safeguarding the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances firmly ingrained therein” in their deliberation of Calida’s quo warranto petition against her.

She also cautioned that granting Calida’s petition would not only cripple the judiciary, but it might also be used against them in the future.

The chief magistrate, at the same time, assailed Calida for accusing her of failure to pay taxes for the legal fees she earned when she was consultant of the Office of the Solicitor General in the arbitration case filed by the contractor of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 against the government in 2005.

Calida also accused her of not filing her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) when she was still a law professor at the University of the Philippines.

She stressed that Calida’s allegations are tantamount to forum-shopping.

Published newspaper reports, quoting court insiders, claim that 14 justices had agreed to hold a special full-court session on May 11 to decide on Sereno’s fate. Furthermore, according to the report, the session is only a show as there is already a consensus among them to remove Serene by granting Calida’s quo warranto petition. (Read More:

Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila University president, Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, on Saturday called on the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition by Calida to nullify Sereno’s appointment. He noted that under the law, Sereno, an economics graduate of the Ateneo, can only be removed through impeachment.

The Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments on a petition filed by Calida to invalidate Sereno’s appointment, citing her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth.

“At this point, the legal and proper process is impeachment and not Quo Warranto. We thus categorically call on the Supreme Court to dismiss the Quo Warranto petition filed against the Chief Justice,” Villarin said in a statement.

Calida’s move came as a House of Representatives panel deliberated on an impeachment complaint filed against Sereno also for alleged misdeclaration of wealth and violation of court procedures.

Associate Justices Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam testified against Sereno during the impeachment hearings at the House prompting Sereno to ask for their inhibition on the quo warranto plea against her, something the high tribunal rejected.

Villarin also called on magistrates of the Supreme Court to discern the “damage their actions have inflicted on themselves and on the whole of our democratic society.”

Moreover, Villarin said the University is dismayed and disappointed “at how vicious and malicious the search for accountability has become.”

“It should alarm us when several justices who will decide on whether the Chief Justice has sufficiently complied with the requirement are among those who have accused her of wrongdoing in that regard, during hearings conducted by Congress, thus effectively prejudging the matter,” he added.

Sereno attended the oral arguments and took questions from her colleagues. One exchange with De Castro was particularly heated, in a public manifestation of divisions within the high tribunal.

“Let us allow the impeachment to unfold, to guarantee the impeachable officer due process of fundamental law,” Villarin said.

“As the nation’s highest court, the Supreme Court’s main focus should always be to keep the freedoms of each person inviolable and sacred,” he added.

(Read More:

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