MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has accused Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires of "faith-shaming" as she sought his inhibition from proceedings on a petition seeking to nullify her appointment.
In a pleading filed with the high court on Friday, Sereno alleged that Martires showed "actual bias" against her during the oral arguments on Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petition against her.
The embattled top magistrate, a devout Christian, alleged that Martires " insinuated that her pervasive faith in God could be a sign of mental illness."
“The Chief Justice, with due respect, has reasonable grounds to believe that the Hon. Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires has manifested actual bias against her which should disqualify him from participating in these proceedings,” Sereno's plea read.
Sereno had earlier asked for the recusal of five other colleagues, also on allegations of bias. She filed separate pleas against Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam.
All five justices rejected her plea.
A statement from the Chief Justice's camp said Sereno took exception to a series of questions Martires asked Calida during oral arguments on April 10: “Would you agree it a mental illness when a person always invokes God as the source of his strength? The source of happiness? The source of everything in life? Is that mental illness?”
Sereno also noted that Martires asked Calida's opinion on the psychiatric report about her.
“With due respect, it appears that Justice Martires has formed an opinion on the competence of Respondent (Sereno) to serve as Chief Justice on some basis other than what he learned from his participation in this case. His objectivity and impartiality therefore appears to have been impaired,” Sereno said in her plea.
RESOLVE INHIBITION PLEAS FIRST
Sereno, in the same plea, also asked the Supreme Court en banc to resolve her earlier motions which sought the recusal of five other justices before it decides on the quo warranto case.
It was earlier reported that the high court may decide on the case on May 11.
The top magistrate argued that allowing the six justices to join the deliberations on the ouster plea would create a perception that there has been “manifest [un]fairness in the process.”
She added that the inhibition of the six justices, who she labeled the "Biased 6," was also the "best way" to prove that they were not personally invested in the result of the case.
“It is not wrong to expect that their presence, the [motions for inhibition] will not prosper merely because of the numerical strength of the justices whose competence is being challenged,” Sereno said.
Sereno noted that the six magistrates should inhibit from the case “out of delicadeza and out of the great public necessity that this Honorable Court be perceived as a neutral body.”
“It is well-settled that a judge should not only be impartial, he must also appear impartial, for appearance is an essential manifestation of reality," she said.
Sereno, currently on indefinite leave, is also facing an impeachment case at the House of Representatives for allegedly failing to fully declare her wealth, among other supposed violations.