SC ends oral arguments on quo warranto plea vs Sereno

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2018 09:09 PM | Updated as of Apr 11 2018 01:47 AM

Chief Justice on leave Maria Lourdes Sereno meets with her supporters and the media right after the oral arguments with the Suprmem Court on the Quo Warranto petition against her on the Supreme Court (SC) in Baguio City Tuesday. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Supreme Court on Tuesday concluded oral arguments on Solicitor General Jose Calida's petition seeking to nullify Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's appointment.

The oral arguments held in Baguio City ended past 7 p.m. following nearly 6 hours of interpellations. 

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio instructed both parties to submit their respective memoranda, which would wrap up their arguments on the case, and all requested documents within 10 days, on or before April 20, 2018.

Carpio added that no extension will be granted by the high court.

Sereno attended Tuesday's proceedings and took questions from her colleagues--a first for an incumbent chief justice of the country.

Tuesday's proceedings saw Sereno engage in a fiery exchange with Associate Justices Teresita de Castro and Noel Tijam.

Calida defended his "quo warranto" petition before Sereno's colleagues, saying the top magistrate's appointment was ""tainted with invalidity."

"Sereno's assumption of the position of chief justice under the color of an executive appointment is a public wrong that can only be corrected by quo warranto," Calida said in his opening statement.

Calida had sought Sereno's removal from office, saying the chief justice was "unlawfully holding" her post due to her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth prior to her appointment by then-President Benigno Aquino. 

Sereno, however, has maintained that she submitted all of her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALNs), except for some when she was working in the state university which could not be found. 

Lawyer Alexander Poblador, counsel for Sereno, meanwhile, alleged that Calida's petition is a "repackage" of an argument from the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon against the chief justice.

"What the petitioner has done was to repackage the SALN issue before the House Committee on Justice into a question of disqualification," Poblador said.

The quo warranto petition was filed as a House of Representatives panel deliberated on an impeachment complaint filed against Sereno also for alleged misdeclaration of wealth and violation of court procedures.

Calida also denied before the high court that he was influenced to seek Sereno's ouster, maintaining that the move was of his own initiative.

Sereno, the country's first female chief justice, was appointed to the high court in 2012 by Aquino following the ouster of the late chief magistrate Renato Corona, who was found guilty by the Senate impeachment court of misdeclaring his wealth.

Sereno was expected to stay in her post until her retirement at 70 in 2030.

If she is removed from office, President Rodrigo Duterte will get a chance to appoint a new chief justice. Duterte's term ends in June 2022.