MANILA - The government's top lawyer has denied a request to seek the ouster of Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita De Castro on grounds similar to those cited in his ouster plea against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
In a letter dated April 23, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the arguments in his quo warranto petition against Sereno do not apply to De Castro.
"The argument which the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) propounded against Sereno does not apply to Justice De Castro since it was Sereno who was appointed as the Chief Justice without the qualifications back in 2012," Calida said in the letter.
The letter was in response to a request by a private citizen named Jocelyn Acosta who said De Castro may have committed perjury when she said under oath during a congressional inquiry that she met all the requirements of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when she applied for the Chief Justice post in 2012 along with Sereno.
Acosta noted that De Castro only submitted 15 out of 39 statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) in her nearly four decades in government.
De Castro is due to retire in October.
The failure of Sereno to submit several of her SALNs before the JBC when she applied for the top post in the judiciary is the subject of the ouster plea Calida had filed against her.
The top magistrate's camp earlier said they have a total of 11 SALNs at hand, as they recover more of the missing documents from Sereno's 20 years as a law professor at the University of the Philippines.
Calida also told Acosta that she did not provide evidence to support her request and reminded her that he has the discretion to initiate quo warranto proceedings if he believes there is enough evidence to support the case.
"Your letter, however, does not advert to any supporting evidence. It is basic that evidence is the means to proof; proof is the result of evidence," he said.
Earlier this month, Sereno faced her colleagues during oral arguments on Calida's petition. The court is expected to issue its ruling on the unprecedented case next month.
Apart from Calida's petition, Sereno is facing impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives.
Declaring Sereno was his "enemy," President Rodrigo Duterte recently directed the House of Representatives to expedite proceedings against her.