MANILA - Failure to file Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) is not a basis for removal from office, lawyers of ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said Thursday.
Sereno asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to reverse its decision to remove her from office for her alleged failure to submit her SALNs when she applied for the post.
"Merong summary na binigay ang mga abogado ni Chief Justice Sereno ng lahat ng mga kaso ng non-submission of SALN," Atty. Carlos Cruz told reporters when asked about the details of Sereno's appeal.
(The lawyers of Chief Justice Sereno submitted a summary of all cases related to the non-submission of SALNs.)
"Naipakita sa mga desisyon ng SC, na consistent naman, wala namang tinanggal dahil sa non-submission of SALN. Binigyan lang o pinatawan ng karampatan parusa o penalty pero removal hindi naisama 'yun sa non-submission of SALN," he said.
(Earlier decisions of the SC were consistent that no official was removed from office due to the non-submission of SALN. They were just given sanctions or penalties, but removal was not an option.)
Sereno also argued that she filed 12 out of 16 SALNs that were required when she was still in UP, Cruz said.
"Hindi po ata nabigyan ng karampatang pansin yung pagsumite ni Chief Justice Sereno ng siya pa ay guro sa UP College of Law. Ang hiling natin sana mabigyan ng pansin itong fact na ito, sana matingnan nila ulit itong bagay na ito," Cruz said.
(It seems that the fact the chief justice Sereno filed her SALN while she was teaching at the UP College of Law was overlooked. We hope they can look at this matter again.)
In March, Sereno's camp said she filed her SALNs, but failed to keep a copy of her records from over 10 years ago.
"Under the law, no one is bound to keep records of these documents for more than 10 years. Especially not those people tasked as repositories of these documents—the filers," Josalee Deinla, one of Sereno's lawyers, said in an earlier interview on ANC's Early Edition.
Sereno also argued that tax fraud allegations against her were baseless, and that she should only be removed from office through an impeachment, and not via a quo warranto petition.