Ax to fall on Sereno

THE final ax will fall on ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, as Supreme Court justices are expected to dismiss with finality her appeal, thus making the tribunal’s ruling sacking her final and executory, sources said.

Unimpeachable sources said the 25-page Draft Resolution circulated by Associate Justice Noel Tijam denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Sereno who questioned her removal through quo warranto proceedings.

“Wherefore, respondent’s Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration is Denied with Finality for lack of merit. No further pleadings shall be entertained. Let entry of judgment be made immediately,” the source quoted part of Tijam’s resolution.

The resolution also urged the Judicial and Bar Council to speed up the process of nomination for the next chief justice.

Once majority of the members of the high court adopts Tijam’s ponencia, Sereno will become the first chief justice to be removed via quo warranto. Former chief Justice Renato Corona was ousted from his post in December 2011 after the Senate impeachment court convicted him for betraying the public trust and committing culpable violation of the Constitution.

Sereno, the country’s first female chief justice, was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino 3rd on August 24, 2012.

The SC source said Tijam’s draft ponencia maintained that Sereno must be sacked for lack of integrity and for her failure to submit Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth as required by law.

“Respondent’s argument dangerously disregards that the filing of SALN is not only a requirement under the law, but a positive duty required from every public officer or employee, first and foremost by the Constitution. The SALN laws were passed in aid of the enforcement of the Constitutional duty to submit a declaration under oath of one’s assets, liabilities and net worth. This positive Constitutional duty of filing one’s SALN is so sensitive and important that it even shares the same category as the Constitutional duty imposed upon public officers and employees to owe allegiance to the State and Constitution. As such, offenses against the SALN laws are not ordinary offenses but violations of a duty whic every public officer and employee owes to the State and the Constitution. In other words, violation of SALN laws, by itself, defeats any claim of integrity as it is inherently immoral to violate the will of the legislature and the to violate the Constitution,” the source said, again quoting Tijam’s draft resolution.

The source said the magistrates will submit their separate concurring and dissenting opinions during the en banc session on Tuesday.

He added that Sereno also faces a separate administrative case for attacking members of the court and discussing the merits of her case in public.

On May 11, 2018, the high court granted the quo warrant petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida seeking the ouster of Sereno. Eight justices voted to oust Sereno– Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr, and Alexander Gesmundo. Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco Jr, Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas Bernabe, Marvic Leonen, and Benjamin Caguioa dissented.

The source said Tijam’s draft maintained that no new arguments were presented by Sereno to merit a reversal of the tribunal’s ruling.

“In sum, respondent has not presented any convincing ground the would merit a modification or reversal of our May 11, 2018 Decision. At the risk of being repetitive, respondent, at the time of her application lacked proof of integrity on account of her failure to file a substantial number of SALNs and also, her failure to submit the required SALNs to the JBC during her application to the position,” the source quoted Tijam’s resolution.

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