MANILA—Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday sought the inhibition of several magistrates of the Supreme Court from joining proceedings on a petition seeking to nullify her appointment.
Separate motions were filed by Sereno's camp for the recusal of Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, and Noel Tijam, the justice in charge of the quo warranto petition earlier filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Magistrates of the Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to hold oral arguments on the quo warranto plea against Sereno on April 10 in Baguio City.
Sereno was ordered to attend the proceedings, a request the chief magistrate would heed, according to her spokesperson.
Her attendance would mark the first time that a sitting chief justice would take questioning from her colleagues during oral arguments.
The 4 associate magistrates testified against Sereno during hearings of the House of Representatives justice committee on the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon.
Peralta, chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council at the time Sereno applied for the top judicial post in 2012, testified that her appointment may be considered void for her failure to comply with the required submission of Statements of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) for 10 years immediately preceding her application.
Peralta told the committee that Sereno’s application “should have been denied,” except that Sereno’s letter seeking an exemption from the rules was not placed under deliberation.
Bersamin testified on the issue of the Department of Justice’s request for the transfer of the trial of criminal cases against members and supporters of the Maute local terror group to Metro Manila.
Jardeleza, meanwhile, accused Sereno of "committing treason and disloyalty to the country" for illegally disclosing classified documents pertaining to the West Philippine Sea row.
Jardeleza filed a case against Sereno before the Supreme Court when the chief magistrate blocked his application to the high tribunal in 2014. Jardeleza won the case, was shortlisted for the post, and thereafter appointed by former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who had also selected Sereno as top magistrate two years earlier.
Tijam, during his testimony at the House hearing, urged Sereno to appear in the proceedings and explain why she allegedly caused delays in the release of survivorship benefits to spouses of justices and judges who had passed away.
Sereno’s failure to appear in the House proceedings “would show disdain and contempt to this committee as this is a constitutional process,” Tijam said.
Sereno is currently on leave from her duties at the high court to prepare for a possible impeachment trial at the Senate.
Last month, the top magistrate downplayed reported infighting between her and her colleagues at the Supreme Court after Associate Justice Teresita De Castro censured her speech in an event.