MANILA - The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Solicitor General to reply to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s comment on its petition to remove her from her post.
Solicitor General Jose Calida was given 5 days from receipt of the notice to submit his reply.
Calida sought Sereno's removal through a "quo warranto" petition before the Supreme Court, citing her alleged failure to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) over a 10-year period when she applied for the top magistrate post in 2012.
Sereno is "unlawfully holding" her post due to her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth, according to Calida's petition. It also cited the chief justice for "usurpation of a public office."
In a 77-page comment filed on Monday, Sereno argued the petition must be dismissed “for lack of jurisdiction and merit.” She said she could be removed only through impeachment.
Sereno is facing impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives, initiated by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who accused her of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes.
Earlier this month, the Chief Justice went on indefinite leave as she prepared for a possible impeachment trial at the Senate.
SERENO SUPPORTERS PICKET SC
On Tuesday, some 150 supporters of Sereno from the Coalition for Justice held a rally in front of the high court to support her.
Armed with a banner that read, "Katotohanan, Katuwiran, Hustisya," and donning purple scarves, the group called on Sereno’s colleagues to immediately junk the quo warranto plea.
They called the Solicitor General's petition "bogus" and an "illegal shortcut" to impeachment. Sereno’s supporters were mostly from outside the judiciary.
"The CFJ asks the justices to honor their sacred oath to faithfully and impartially interpret and defend the Constitution. We ask those among them who have personal grievances to immediately inhibit from the case," the group said, in a statement.
Last week various groups composed of judges, court officials, and judiciary employees urged Sereno to resign “for the good of the judiciary and the nation.”