Sereno camp still hoping SC justices will scrap quo warranto plea

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 12 2018 11:37 AM

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MANILA - The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is not surprised by the alleged bias shown by 5 Supreme Court justices during the oral debates on the ouster petition against the country's top judge.

But lawyer Josalee Deinla said the camp is still hoping these magistrates will let the Constitution prevail by scrapping the quo warranto petition and allow the impeachment process to push through in the Senate. 

"We're still hoping against hope that they will let the provisions of the Constitution prevail. That they will, in the end, dismiss the petition after exhibiting their bias against the Chief Justice," she told ANC.

Sereno earlier sought the inhibition of associate justices Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam for their alleged "bias" against her.

The top magistrate believes her 5 colleagues are prejudiced against her when they testified in the House justice committee impeachment hearings. 

The 5 justices refused to inhibit and proceeded to interpellate Sereno during the oral arguments last Tuesday in Baguio City, resulting to some heated exchanges with the Chief Justice.

"The manner by which some of the justices conducted their questioning to the Chief Justice no longer surprised us," Deinla said. "This is something we already knew would happen."

The petition filed by the Solicitor General seeks to nullify Sereno's appointment to her current position because she supposedly failed to declare some of her wealth—a requirement when she applied. 

Sereno's camp insists the Chief Justice consistently filed her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), though she did not have physical copies of the SALNs when she was applying.

Deinla said Sereno has recovered 5 of these SALN documents in question, which covers the Chief Justice's stint as a professor at the University of the Philippines.

The camp echoed what Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa said during the oral debates that any solicitor general would "wield a sword" over the magistrates if the high court favors the petition.

"If they will not be protected from these kinds of suits that aim for their ouster, in particular 'yung mga members ng Supreme Court, they will always have to look behind their backs," said Deinla.

"They will no longer be deciding without favor or bias. There will always be fear in their hearts. That will spell the destruction of judicial independence," she added. 

Aside from the quo warranto petition, Sereno is also facing a looming impeachment trial. She has been on leave since March 1 as she prepares her defense. 

Deinla said Sereno will come back to work if the impeachment pushes through. The lawyer said the Chief Justice is willing to work even while the trial is ongoing.