SC could've restrained itself in Sereno case: ex-spokesman


Posted at Oct 23 2018 01:01 PM | Updated as of Oct 23 2018 01:13 PM

MANILA - Issues that hounded the Supreme Court that led to the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno were "family matters" that could have been resolved internally, the high court's former spokesperson said Tuesday.

Speaking to ANC, lawyer Theodore Te said the high court's decision to grant a quo warranto petition filed by the Solicitor General against Sereno created a "once in a lifetime loophole" that could have been prevented. 

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"I don't know if I would call it a mistake. But I would definitely say, in creating that precedent, that loophole—even though it is a once in a lifetime loophole—I think the court could've restrained itself," said Te, who was court spokesman for 5 years.

Te pointed out that most people who monitored the case saw the "personal animosity" between the high court personalities involved in the issue. 

This was evident in the House justice panel hearings against Sereno, which saw associate justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, and Samuel Martires testify against the chief magistrate. 

All of them voted in favor of the quo warranto case against the ousted chief justice. 

"That personal animosity could've been resolved. And that doesn't only mean on one side. I mean on all sides because many of these are family matters in a sense, internal matters that could've been resolved," said Te. 

"It was very difficult for me because I could see that. I saw the internal matters," he added.

De Castro went on to become the chief justice when Sereno was ousted. She reached the mandatory age of retirement last October 8.

As the high court awaits a new chief justice, Te believes the new leader of the judiciary should be the one who can "carry the court as an institution forward."

Asked if the issues that hounded the Supreme Court in recent months have negatively affected the judiciary, Te said "it's a judgment that history will make."