MANILA - Solicitor General Jose Calida asked Supreme Court magistrates to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno using a "repackaged" argument from impeachment proceedings, her lawyer said.
Calida sought to remove Sereno through a "quo warranto" petition, citing her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALN.
"What the petitioner has done was to repackage the SALN issue before the House Committee on Justice into a question of disqualification," said Sereno's lawyer, Alexander Poblador.
"The evidence relied upon in the petition is the same evidence that the House Committee on Justice supposedly found against the Chief Justice," he said.
Sereno was present during the oral arguments but did not deliver an opening statement, unlike Calida, who told her fellow justices that her appointment was "tainted with invalidity."
Calida earlier sought to void Sereno's appointment, accusing the Chief Justice of "usurpation of a public office" as public officials are required under the law to file their SALN.
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.
Poblador said the main question that should be asked is why the Solicitor General could not wait for the impeachment trial to commence, given that both complaints are based on the top magistrate's supposed non-filing of her SALNs.
"The question is not really why the Chief Justice is not inclined to face the Solicitor General before this court, it is why the Solicitor General is preempting the impeachment proceedings," he said.
Poblador said Sereno would address all allegations against her before an impeachment court since it has the sole avenue to remove her from office.
Prior to Tuesday's oral arguments, Sereno sought the inhibition of Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam on allegations that they are biased against her.
The Supreme Court rejected her plea.