Issue of April 15, 2018

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Oral arguments on Sereno’s quo warranto case wraps up
by Ofelia C. Empian

NEVER GIVE UP -- Embattled Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno vowed to supporters she will continue to fight the gains of judicial reforms and an independent judiciary after attending the oral arguments on the quo warranto petition filed against her during the Supreme Court summer session in Baguio on April 10. -- Ofelia Empian

The Supreme Court has ended its oral arguments on the quo warranto case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Chief Justice  on-leave Maria Lourdes Sereno during its summer session in Baguio on April 10.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio directed both parties to submit their memoranda and all requested documents within 10 days or on or before April 20. Carpio said no extension shall be granted by the SC.

A quo warrant petition, as provided in both Sec. 5(1), Article VIII of the Constitution and Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, challenges the legal basis of one’s appointment and seeks the removal of the respondent from office because of lack of qualification or legal basis to continue holding such office.

During the oral arguments, which lasted about six hours, ending at 7 p.m., Sereno answered queries from her fellow magistrates – a first in the country where a sitting Chief Justice is being questioned by other justices for her eligibility in her post.

Sereno maintained that she has complied with all the requirements set by the Judicial and Bar Council when she was being considered as Chief Justice in 2012. This includes the submission of her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).

She said the fact that she has been shortlisted as part of the candidates for the post proved that members of JBC found her to have “substantially complied” with the requirements.

Lawyer Alex Poblador, Sereno’s lead counsel called Calida’s plea as “repackaged impeachment” and added the Supreme Court has no power to dismiss a sitting justice.

Earlier, Sereno filed a motion for the five justices to inhibit from the quo warranto plea as they were among those who testified against her in the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives. But Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam did not inhibit from hearing the case while Sereno’s separate motions were denied.

After the oral arguments, Sereno met with her supporters who waited for her outside of the SC compound. Supporters from various organizations including the Coalition for Justice, LODI, Cordillera Peoples Alliance and other groups coming from outside of Baguio came to show their support to Sereno.

“We should not allow those in power to oppress us. You know what I mean. We have to fight in all fronts to make sure that democracy in the Philippines will remain. Walang atrasan, tuloy ang laban!,” Sereno assured her supporters.

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