SC 'showdown' averted due to Sereno's sick leave

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2012 05:03 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2012 02:26 AM

MANILA - For the first time since she assumed the Chief Justice post in August, Maria Lourdes Sereno did not preside over the weekly en banc session of the Supreme Court (SC), the last for the year.

In a one-page special order, Sereno designated Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as Acting Chief Justice.

Sereno called in sick, a day after news broke about her supposed "illegal" issuance of an en banc resolution, described as "fraudulent" by some court insiders.

"In view of the sick leave of absence of the undersigned (Sereno), Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio is hereby designated as Acting Chief Justice, with authority to exercise the powers and prerogatives of and pertaining to the position of Chief Justice on matters that cannot wait for the Chief Justice, effective today, December 4, 2012, until the undersigned reports back to work," read the one-page order.

Sereno was expected to face it off with the justices of the high court following her controversial issuance of the resolution regarding the reopening of the Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO), dated Nov. 27.

The said resolution states that the court en banc "resolved to ratify the action of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno to revive the Regional Court Administration Office in Region 7, with Phase 1 on;  (a) procurement; (b) approval of leave; and (c) payroll administration..."

The resolution also revealed that Judge Geraldine Faith A. Econg, Deputy Clerk of Court and Judicial Reform Program Administrator, has been appointed as RCAO-Region 7 Officer-in-charge effective immediately, and for a period of two months.

However, ABS-CBN News sources bared that the above-stated actions did not, in fact, get the ratification and authority from the court en banc.

The sources further bared that the justices may decide to "revoke" the Sereno-ordered resolution, which would put the chief magistrate in a very embarrassing situation.

Sparks were expected to fly in Tuesday's en banc session, but this did not happen with Sereno's sudden absence.

According to well-placed sources, the court en banc decided to suspend, in the meantime, the implementation of the "illegal" order, including the immediate assumption of Econg.

Further action may be taken by the court en banc on the matter.

There is no official word, so far, from the Supreme Court.