MANILA- The Ateneo de Manila University on Saturday called on the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition by the government's top lawyer to nullify Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's appointment.
Sereno, an economics graduate of the Ateneo, can only be removed through impeachment, said the university president, father Jose Ramon Villarin.
The Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments on a petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida to invalidate Sereno's appointment, citing her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth.
"At this point, the legal and proper process is impeachment and not Quo Warranto. We thus categorically call on the Supreme Court to dismiss the Quo Warranto petition filed against the Chief Justice," Villarin said in a statement.
Calida's move came 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.
Associate Justices Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam testified against Sereno during the impeachment hearings at the House.
On allegations of bias, Sereno asked that they inhibit from participating in proceedings on the quo warranto plea against her but the Supreme Court rejected her petition.
Villarin also called on magistrates of the Supreme Court to discern the "damage their actions have inflicted on themselves and on the whole of our democratic society."
"The University expresses its dismay and disappointment at how vicious and malicious the search for accountability has become," he said.
"It should alarm us when several justices who will decide on whether the Chief Justice has sufficiently complied with the requirement are among those who have accused her of wrongdoing in that regard, during hearings conducted by Congress, thus effectively prejudging the matter," he added.
Sereno attended the oral arguments and took questions from her colleagues. One exchange with De Castro was particularly heated, in a public manifestation of divisions within the high tribunal.
"Let us allow the impeachment to unfold, to guarantee the impeachable officer due process of fundamental law," Villarin said.
"As the nation’s highest court, the Supreme Court’s main focus should always be to keep the freedoms of each person inviolable and sacred," he added.