Sereno: No intention to cast ill motives on SC members

Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said she was only defending herself and had no intention to cast ill motives on members of the Supreme Court when she made public remarks on the quo warranto issue.

Sereno stated this reason in the compliance she filed before the SC through Atty. Alex Poblador.

The high court on May 11, 2018 had required Sereno to explain why she should not be cited in contempt of court for speaking about the quo warranto petition publicly even while the case is pending.

It was on the same day that the SC granted the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida that led to Sereno’s ouster.

“Respondent (Sereno) had to contend with the numerous false and baseless accusations thrown against her all over the media. No less than the Solicitor General of the Republic himself repeatedly attacked Respondent and publicly discussed the merits of the petition and even made personal attacks on Respondent, not only through the media but also through his personal social media (Twitter) account,” Sereno said in the compliance she filed.

The former Chief Justice said she could not be faulted for explaining her side to the public after her repeated demands for due process were allegedly unheeded.

Sereno said it would be the “height of injustice” if her calls for fairness would be the basis to cite her for contempt and disbar her.

She noted that during the hearing of the impeachment complaint against her at the House of Representatives, she was prohibited from cross-examining the witnesses who testified against her.

The former chief justice added that she was also denied her right to be heard by the proper tribunal, the Senate, the only body allowed by the Constitution to sit as an impeachment court.

Sereno argued that her public statements about her case were made as a “party-litigant,” and not as counsel or a judge.

The public utterances in question did not create any serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice,” she explained. “In no way did such utterances prevent or delay this Court from rendering its judgment on the petition.”

“Against this backdrop, Respondent cannot reasonably be expected to keep her silence despite vigorous assaults on her integrity. It would certainly be unjust to punish Respondent for speaking publicly under the circumstances,” read her compliance.

Six justices

Sereno also claimed that she was denied the right to be heard by an objective and impartial tribunal when the six justices who manifested bias against her continued to participate in the quo warranto case.

She also reiterated her request for the inhibition of the six magistrates—Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, and Samuel Martires.

According to Sereno, administrative proceedings against judges and lawyers are instituted to ensure compliance with the Code of Professional Responsibility and the New Code of Judicial Conduct.

She noted that the codes enjoin judges to “disqualify themselves from participating in any proceedings in which they are unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a reasonable observer that they are unable to decide the matter impartially.”

“It would therefore be highly incongruous to the purpose of these proceedings if the six challenged Justices, who have blatantly transgressed the boundaries of impartiality and manifested actual bias and prejudice against Respondent, would not be disqualified,” she pointed out.  /vvp

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