Sereno should not have been Chief Justice candidate: colleagues

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2018 01:27 PM | Updated as of Feb 12 2018 02:27 PM

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. File photo

MANILA - (UPDATED) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno should not have been among the candidates for her post for failure to comply with requirements, two of her colleagues in the Supreme Court said Monday. 

An impeachment complaint against Sereno alleged that she failed to submit her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to the Judicial and Bar Council when she applied as chief justice in 2012. 

Sereno instead sent a letter saying she cannot locate some of her SALNs when she was still a professor at the University of the Philippines, said JBC executive officer Annaliza Capacite. 

But Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, who had presided over the JBC's search for the next chief justice, said he only knew of the letter now. 

"I cannot recall of any letter of a certain applicant who has no SALN," he said during an impeachment hearing against Sereno. 

"Had I been informed of this... I could have immediately objected to the selection of the chief justice for voting because this is a very clear deviation from the existing rules that if a member of the judiciary would like to apply for Chief Justice, then he or she is mandated to submit by the SALNs," he added. 

Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, who also applied for the judiciary's top post, said Sereno's inclusion in the selection process was unfair to other candidates who all submitted SALNs and bank waivers. 

"She (Sereno) should not have been even interviewed. She should have been excluded," De Castro said. 

"I think there was grave injustice done to all the applicants because of what they did to Sereno at that time." 

'LIKE PONTIUS PILATE' 

Sereno's camp meanwhile accused Peralta of pulling a "Pontius Pilate" move when he said he was not fully aware of the issue on SALN submission.

"The fact that the JBC shortlisted the Chief Justice means its members, including Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta who was then the acting chair, found her documentary submissions complete and compliant with the rules," lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, one of Sereno's spokespersons, said in a statement. 

"It is clear to us that Justice Peralta wants to wash his hands clean of how Chief Justice Sereno was included in the JBC shortlist and he knows it," he added. 

Lacanilao said Sereno complied with JBC requirements by submitting SALNs covering the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 

JBC's Capacite said that back in 2012, only 2 SALNs were required from chief justice candidates. 

De Castro however accused Capacite of "confusing everyone here" and said that "substantial compliance" to JBC requirements means submitting 10 years worth of SALNs.