Ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday asked the Supreme Court to give her more time to explain why she should not be sanctioned for violating the sub judice rule and for casting aspersions on members of the bench at the height of debates on the quo warranto case against her.
Sereno’s spokesperson, Josalee Deinla, said Sereno has already filed a motion for extension asking Supreme Court to give her 15 days more, or until June 9, to respond to the show cause order.
In its May 11 ruling, the Court ousted Sereno as top magistrate for violating the Constitution by failing to file the required Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and ordered her to show cause why she should not be sanctioned for speaking in public about her case when it was ongoing as well as for casting aspersions on members of the Court.
“When this petition for quo warranto was filed, respondent (Sereno) continuously refused to recognize this Court’s (SC’s) jurisdiction. Instead of participating in the process and answering the charges against her truthfully to assist in the expeditious resolution of the matter, respondent opted to proceed to a nationwide campaign, conducting speeches and accepting interviews, discussing the merits of the case and making comments thereon to vilify the members of the Congress, cast aspersions on the impartiality of the members of the Court, degrade the faith of the people to the judiciary, and falsely impute ill-motives against the government that it is orchestrating the charges against her,” the Court said, in a decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam.
“It is well-nigh unthinkable for respondent to profess deprivation of due process when she herself chose to litigate her case before the media,” the tribunal said.
The SC said Sereno’s behavior of “disdain and contempt” towards some justices whom she dubbed as ‘Biased 5’ originally, and later, ‘Biased 6,’ “can no longer be tolerated.
“Such actions, indeed, resulted in the obfuscation of the issues on hand, camouflaging the charges against her with assaults to judicial independence, and falsely conditioning the public’s mind that this is a fight for democracy. Once and for all, it should be stated that this is not a fight for democracy nor for judicial independence. This is an undertaking of the Court’s duty, as it is called for by the Republic, to judicially determine and settle the uncertainty in the qualification, or otherwise, of respondent to sit on the highest position in the judiciary,” the Court said.
Voting 8-6, the high court granted the quo warranto petition seeking to nullify Sereno’s appointment as chief justice in 2012 for failing to submit her SALNs before the Judicial and Bar Council, which set the requirement for applicants.
An opposition lawmaker, meanwhile, accused House leaders of treason for allegedly abdicating their constitutional duty to impeach erring public officials.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a member of the opposition, said the House leadership should have been disposed of the impeachment case filed against Sereno amid the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the quo warranto petition against Sereno.
But instead of having acted on the articles of impeachment, the House leadership put the complaint on the backburner.
“The leadership of the House of Representatives has committed treason against the chamber when it abandoned and forfeited the constitutional power of the House to initiate impeachment proceedings in the wake of the power grab by eight Justices of the Supreme Court who removed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by granting an irregular and improvident quo warranto petition,” Lagman said.
“The House leaders, particularly Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, have unilaterally deferred to the “finality” of the 8-6 High Court decision unseating the chief magistrate without following the constitutionally mandated impeachment process,” he added.