“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.”
Lawyer Maria Lourdes Sereno stretched her rhetoric too far in ascribing to President Rody Duterte her fate of being booted out of the Supreme Court (SC).
The SC last Tuesday affirmed its earlier decision granting the quo warranto petition of Solicitor General Jose Calida through a vote of 8-6.
The decision also signaled the start of the process for the selection of a new Chief Justice.
Associate Justice Noel Tijam, who wrote the original majority decision, also penned the ruling denying Sereno’s motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
It likewise enjoined the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to speed up the nomination process for the next Chief Justice.
“Having settled respondent’s ineligibility and ouster from the position, the Court reiterates its directive to the JBC to immediately commence the application, nomination and recommendation process for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” it said.
Sereno, appearing before her followers, blamed Rody for the SC ruling, high prices and her claim of political intimidation from the quo warranto process.
She also claimed Rody reappoints officials accused of irregularity while saying true justice needs accountability.
Sereno also questioned Rody’s “friendly ties” with China and his plan to shift to a federal form of government.
Her diatribe, nonetheless, failed to address the integrity issue raised on her.
The petition alleged Sereno lacked integrity needed for her position due to her failure to file complete statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
Also, she conveniently glossed over her assumption to the top SC post, which was the result of former President Noynoy Aquino trampling on the independence of the SC by leading a move to oust the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. Sereno leapfrogged over other senior justices, in disregard of tradition and qualifications, in becoming Chief Justice.
Noynoy indicated his desire to remove Corona from the start of his administration, referring to him as a residue of the crooked past while claiming Corona was a midnight appointee of former President Gloria Arroyo.
Through the Liberal Party (LP)-controlled House of Representatives, Corona was impeached on grounds that included a similar reason Sereno was ousted, which was his failure to fully disclose his wealth in the SALN.
Corona was ousted by the Senate impeachment court on the article about his SALN deficiency.
The SC threw out Sereno’s argument that it was the JBC that decided to admit her as candidate for the Chief Justice despite the lack of the required SALN documents, saying 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.”
“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,” the SC said.
The wild accusations Sereno threw Rody also typified her view on the SC justices who had issued the decision ousting her.
Tijam noted that Sereno even made the footnotes on the main decision as part of her argument of prejudgment by claiming these were made as early as March 15, 2018, even before she was able to file her comment.
“Bordering on the absurd, respondent alleges prejudice based on the footnotes of the main decision, which show that the draft thereof was being prepared as early as March 15, 2018, when respondent has yet to file her comment,” Tijam said.
Tijam said it was irregular that the justices made an initial determination on the matter of jurisdiction when propriety of the remedy of quo warranto was raised.
Sereno should acknowledge the SC decision on her and move on.