Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza on Monday said Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno committed acts of treason and disloyalty to the country regarding the West Philippine Sea issue.
According to Jardeleza, Sereno committed treason when she disclosed classified information to the public.
"Number one, ginamit niya, pinalabas niya sa publiko ang classified document. Number two, tinawag niya na island 'yung feature na hirap na hirap ang gobyerno, gusto namin ng pruweba, rock," he added.
Jardeleza reiterated that the government maintains its position that Itu Aba is only a rock, but Sereno thinks otherwise, referring to it as an island.
"Itu Aba is the largest island in the Spratlys. Salita niya (Sereno) 'yun, hindi ko salita 'yun. 'Yun nga ang pinag-aawayan. Ang statement na 'Itu Aba is the largest island in the Spratlys' ay taliwas, contradictory, sa position ng gobyerno na ang Itu Aba ay rock lang," he said.
Itu Aba is the the biggest feature in the Spratly group of islands and is being disputed by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Sereno earlier opposed Jardeleza's appointment to the Supreme Court after he omitted Itu Aba in the memorandum filed by the Philippine government before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at the Hague, which would rule in July 2016 in favor of the Philippines in its maritime dispute against China.
In a statement, the Sereno defense team said the Chief Justice merely performed her duty as a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when she opposed Jardeleza's nomination.
Her lawyers said Sereno did this "after receiving and painstakingly verifying reports on his stand in the West Philippine Sea arbitration between the Philippines and China."
"These reports had given her reasonable grounds to doubt his integrity and moral fitness to become a member of the highest court of the land," they said.
"The Chief Justice, as ex officio Chairperson of the JBC, acted in good faith and in accordance with the JBC Rules in the matter of the nomination and subsequent appointment to the Supreme Court of then Solicitor General Jardeleza," they added.
The international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippine government's contention that Itu Aba was just a high-tide feature not capable of human habitation.
“This means that all submerged features within this EEZ, like the Reed Bank and Malampaya, are subject to exclusive economic exploitation by the Philippines in terms of fisheries, oil and gas, and mineral resources,” Associate Justice Antonio Carpio once explained.
“If the Philippines has a full 200 NM EEZ in Palawan facing the West Philippine Sea, only the Philippines can create artificial islands on submerged areas or erect structures on LTEs (Low Tide Elevation) within its 200 NM EEZ. Artificial structures or reclamations made by other countries, namely by China and Vietnam, are illegal,” Carpio said.