By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) has imposed strict requirements when Chief Justice-on leave Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno appears during the oral argument of the case that seeks her disqualification and ouster as head of the judiciary on April 10.
In a notice sent to all parties to the quo warranto petition, Sereno was asked not only to be personally present but also to “testify under oath, affirm and verify under oath the truth and veracity of the allegations in the comment filed by counsels supposedly on her behalf, expressly acknowledge this court’s jurisdiction to act upon the relief prayed for, in any.”
The SC reiterated in its advisory on the guidelines that would govern the oral arguments that “it is understood that if the respondent (Sereno) fails or refuses to personally appear on April 10, 2018 or comply with the other aforementioned conditions set by this Court, the oral argument shall automatically be cancelled.”
Sereno’s spokesperson lawyer Jose Lacanilao confirmed yesterday that “the Chief Justice will attend the oral argument to answer question from justices.”
But qualified, Sereno’s “appearance does not necessarily mean she has conceded to the propriety of the quo warranto proceedings against her.”
“Her appearance is without prejudice to our jurisdiction challenge,” he stressed.
Sereno earlier asked the SC to dismiss the quo warranto case for lack of merit and lack jurisdiction on the part of the High Court.
She also noted that the quo warranto petition has expired since it was filed not within one year of her appointment as Chief Justice in 2012.
Guidelines for oral argument
The SC has laid down the guidelines on the issues to be discussed during the oral argument. These are:
“1.Whether or not the Court can assume jurisdiction and give due course to the instant petition for quo warranto against respondent who is an impeachable officer and against whom an impeachment complaint has already been filed with the House of Representatives;
2. Whether or not the petition may be dismissed outright on the ground of prescription;
3. Whether or not the respondent can be granted relief by this Court considering that she expressly refuses to recognize this Court’s jurisdiction;
4. Whether or not the respondent filed her SALN as required by the Constitution, law, implementing regulations, and the JBC Rules in relation to her application for the position of Chief Justice;
5. Whetheror not the failure to file the SALN will invalidate her appointment as Chief Justice;
6. Whether or not the Certification issued by the University of the Philippines Human Resources Development Office dated December 8, 201 7, stating that its records contain only respondent’s SALN for the year 2002; and the Certification issued by the Office of the Ombudsman dated December 4, 2017, stating that there is no SALN filed by the respondent except for her SALN ending December 1998, are false;
7. Whether or not the petition for quo warranto should be granted;
8.Whether or not the submission of the Statement Of Assets, Liabilities judiciary enumerated in Section 7, Article VIII of the Constitution;
9. Whether or not the SALN is the only way of determining if respondent is a person of proven integrity;
10. Whether or not the Judicial and Bar Council’s (JBC) determination if a person is of proven integrity is a political question beyond this Court’s power of judicial review;
11. Whether or not the Court, in the exercise of its supervisory power over the JBC, can void the JBC’s act of including respondent in the short list for the position of Chief Justice;
12.Whether or not the JBC acted with grave abuse of discretion when it included respondent in the short list for Chief Justice despite her disclosure of her failure to attach all of her past SALNs to her application.”
Four justices asked to inhibit
Solicitor General Jose C. Calida, who filed the quo warranto petition in behalf of the government, will be the first to argue. Sereno will then follow.
The SC required both parties to the case to submit not later than 12 noon today their list of lawyers who will argue and their assignments.
“The interpellation by the Members of the Court will immediately follow after the presentation of arguments by each side,” the SC said.
Meanwhile, Sereno has sought the inhibition of four Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justices – Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Francis H. Jardeleza, and Noel G. Tijam– from participating in the quo warranto case. Sereno noted the alleged bias of the four justices during the House committee hearings and for participating in the “Red Monday” protest that called for her resignation.
She argued that the refusal of the four justices to inhibit from the quo warranto petition would constitute “a willful and intentional violation” of her constitutional right to due process.