By Ellson A. Quismorio
Stick a fork in it because Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is done.
Makabayan lawmaker Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao had this say as he sounded off on the SC’s expected upholding of the quo warranto petition filed by Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) against the embattled Sereno.
“By the looks of it, tsaka yung mga pinakita ng mga kasamahan ni Chief Justice Sereno, luto na yung desisyon eh (based on what Chief Justice Sereno’s colleagues have shown, the decision is already cooked),” Casilao told House reporters in a recent press conference.
“Malinaw naman, kumbaga elephant in the room na yan. Talagang gagawin ang proseso ng quo warranto… definitely tatanggalin si Chief Justice (It’s clear, it’s like the elephant in the room. They will go through the process of quo warranto…. definitely they will remove the Chief Justice),” he added.
The OSG petition, which seeks to declare the Chief Justice’s appointment as void, was filed in the middle of probable cause hearings by the House Committee on Justice in connection with an impeachment complaint lodged against Sereno by lawyer Larry Gadon. The Justice panel has since declared the presence of probable cause in the Gadon complaint as well as approved six Articles of Impeachment against Sereno, who in 2012 was appointed top magistrate by then-President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Should the SC decide to unseat Sereno via quo warranto, then Congress no longer has to follow through with the impeachment proceeding as there is no longer an official to impeach.
De Castro, too?
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Jose Calida has also been asked to also initiate quo warranto proceedings before the SC against one of Sereno’s colleagues, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro.
A letter-request from private citizen Jocelyn Marie Acosta called on Calida to do the same against De Castro for her alleged failure to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
“As a citizen of this country and as a taxpayer, I humbly request that the Solicitor General urgently initiate quo warranto proceedings against Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro for lacking integrity as a member of the Supreme Court,” read Acosta’s complaint.
Calida filed the quo warranto petition before the SC which sought to void the 2012 appointment of Sereno as chief justice for failing to comply with one of the requirements set by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), particularly, her non-submission of her SALNs.
The Solicitor General filed the petition based on the request of suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari who said Sereno’s appointment was invalid.
Acosta told Calida that she is invoking “the same grounds raised by Mr. Mallari in his letter as sufficient grounds for you to file a similar petition for quo warranto against Justice De Castro.”
“I anticipate that you would act with the same zeal as you did when you received the letter of Atty. Maliari in February 2018,” Acosta told Calida. (With a report from Jeffrey G. Damicog)