No real time info: Sereno team didn't know about SC decision on CJ's indefinite leave

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2018 09:21 AM | Updated as of Mar 02 2018 10:38 AM

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Members of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's legal team had no real time information about the Supreme Court en banc's decision urging the chief magistrate to take an indefinite leave last Tuesday, a spokesperson for Sereno said Friday.

Speaking to radio DZMM, Atty. Josalee Deinla said Sereno told the legal team about her upcoming wellness leave in March during a meeting Monday night, February 26.

Hours later, she said Sereno's spokespersons had to answer questions from the media amid rumors that Sereno had gone on indefinite leave after meeting the SC en banc Tuesday morning.

"We were constrained to engage the media with the information available to us at that time. Hindi ho namin alam kung ano ang nangyayari doon sa loob ng en banc session kaya hindi namin nasabi kung ano 'yun. Hindi ho namin ma-confirm at hindi ho namin ma-dispute kung ano yung nature talaga nung leave," she said.

Asked if Sereno was less than forthcoming with her legal team, she said: "Hindi naman po ganoon. Hindi po nakakarating 'yung information real-time hindi kagaya ni Congressman (Rey) Umali, alam na niya po kung ano ang nangyayari sa en banc. Kami po hindi ganoon eh."

Deinla said she initially had a hard time processing reports that Sereno was forced to take a leave "because a leave is supposed to be voluntary."

She also said the legal team meant no disrespect when it gave out wrong information about Sereno's leave.

"We meant no disrespect and we are not damaging the integrity of the Supreme Court and the judiciary. That is very far from our goals when we volunteered to be spokespersons of the Chief Justice," she said.

High court spokesperson Theodore Te has said 13 magistrates had agreed that Sereno should take an indefinite leave for several reasons.

Sereno is facing impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives after lawyer Lorenzo Gadon accused her of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes.

Umali, chairman of the House justice committee, earlier castigated the Sereno team for giving wrong information about the chief justice's leave last Tuesday.

Reading from his phone, Umali said "justices said that what was agreed upon during the en banc was an indefinite leave by the Chief Justice, not a wellness leave."

He then urged Sereno to do the country a favor and just resign.

The lawmaker has denied colluding with the SC magistrates, saying the justices only wanted to correct the information given to the media.