MANILA ( 2ND UPDATE) - The Supreme Court has ordered Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to answer the Office of the Solicitor General's (OSG) petition seeking to void her appointment as it junked another petition that also sought to remove her from office.
Sereno was given 10 days to comment on the OSG's petition for "quo warranto," which alleged that she is "unlawfully holding" her post due to her supposed failure to fully disclose her wealth.
"The court, without giving due course to the petition, requires the respondent to submit her comment on the petition for 'quo warranto' within a period of 10 days from receipt of notice," said Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te.
Te added that Associate Justice Marvic Leonen dissented and expressed his opinion that the petition for "quo warranto" against the Chief Justice should be “dismissed outright.”
At the same time, the High Court also junked a petition filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano, which sought to invalidate the chief magistrate's appointment.
Lozano’s petition was not a quo warranto. While it claimed Sereno did not comply with mandatory legal requirements for the top magistrate's post, it did not cite what requirements Sereno had failed to comply with.
Instead, Lozano invoked the high court’s “inherent and plenary powers” in seeking Sereno’s ouster “motu proprio.”
Lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, a spokesperson for Sereno, said the quo warranto proceeding is unconstitutional and is not the right way for a sitting Chief Justice to be removed from office.
He maintained that Sereno would face all allegations against her before a Senate impeachment hearing.
"We will need to wait for these things to develop...We have always said that we are waiting for the case to go to the Senate, and the Chief Justice is willing to face any allegation in the Senate..." Lacanilao told ANC on Tuesday.
Sereno faced the cases as she battled impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives.
Sereno was appointed to the high court in 2012 by former president Benigno Aquino III following the ouster of the late chief magistrate Renato Corona, who was removed for undeclared wealth.
The country's first female chief justice was expected to stay in her post until reaching the mandatory retirement age in 2030.
She is currently on indefinite leave as she prepares for a possible impeachment trial on similar allegations of misdeclaration of assets, among others.
-- report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News