SC set to dismiss Sereno’s appeal

The Supreme Court (SC) is poised to make final and executory its decision issued last month ousting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Unimpeachable sources told The Manila Times that Associate Justice Noel Tijam has circulated his draft resolution throwing out the motion for reconsideration filed by Sereno.

The chief justice questioned the high court’s ruling in May granting the Quo Warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

The solicitor general claimed that Sereno’s appointment as chief justice was void because she did not file her complete Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) as required by the Judicial and Bar Council.

It was Tijam who penned the resolution ousting the chief justice. Eight other members of the high tribunal agreed with Tijam’s ponencia.

Sources said the 20-page draft resolution written by Tijam dismissing Sereno’s appeal was distributed to the other magistrates on Friday.

One of the sources said Sereno did not present new arguments in her motion for reconsideration that would prompt the high court to overturn its ruling.

“The case of Sereno is easier to rule now since votes were already made last May 11 and we see no new arguments presented. Despite the thickness of her MR, these (the arguments) were all rehashed,” the source said.

He said that Tijam wrote the court en banc to calendar the case for discussion during the en banc session on Tuesday, June 5.

However, acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio told Tijam that it would be best if the case is tackled when he comes back from his sabbatical leave or Service Recognition Leave.

Tijam’s sabbatical leave will start on Monday and end on June 17.

“Carpio told Tijam that it would be better if the Quo Warranto case of Sereno be ruled on after his return from his sabbatical leave,” the source said.

With this development, the source said Calida will be given the chance to file his reply to the motion for reconsideration lodged by Sereno.

The sources also defended Tijam from Sereno’s claim that he prejudged her case.

The sources said justices are allowed to study a case and make a draft recommendation or “reflections” even before a comment can be filed in a petition.

“There is no truth to the accusation of Sereno that Tijam had prejudged her case. The ponente is given the discretion to write his or her reflections or draft recommendations ahead of time and revise it later. There are times nauuna pa nga ang dissent bago sa ponencia (the dissent comes ahead of the ponencia) and there is nothing irregular in it. Sereno knows about it when she was still in the Supreme Court,” the source pointed out.

The Supreme Court declared the position of chief justice vacant on May 11, 2018 after seven associate justices – Lucas Bersamin, Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Alexander Gesmundo, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Diosdado Peralta, and Andres Reyes Jr. – concurred with Tijam’s ponencia that said that Sereno “is Guilty of Unlawfully Holding and Exercising the Office of the Chief Justice.”

“Accordingly, the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is declared vacant and the Judicial and Bar Council is directed to commence the application and nomination process,” the court said in its ruling.

Six magistrates dissented — Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas Bernabe, Marvic Leonen, and Benjamin Caguioa.

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