SC cannot use impeachment proceedings as ‘corroborative evidence’, Sereno says

Published June 2, 2018, 3:23 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Jeffrey Damicog

Ousted Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the high tribunal cannot use the impeachment proceedings against her as “corroborative evidence” in the quo warranto case against her.

Maria Lourdes Sereno going out from her office at Supreme Court on Friday, May 11, 2018, after the high tribunal voted 8-6 to oust her from her post. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)
Ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

Because of this, Sereno assailed the May 11 SC majority decision which ordered her ouster for violating her constitutional right to due process and her right to be presumed innocent when it cited the impeachment proceedings.

“To stress, these impeachment charges are mere allegations which are yet to be proven during an impeachment trial,” she said in a statement today, June 2, citing her motion for reconsideration she submitted to the SC.

“It is basic that ‘mere allegation is not evidence and is not equivalent to proof,’” Sereno stressed.

The ousted chief justice pointed out that impeachment charges were even “not among the issues raised by the parties in their pleadings.”

Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon had filed before the House of Representatives an impeachment complaint against Sereno who was accused of corruption including living a lavish lifestyle using government funds.

However, even before the Senate held an impeachment trial, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto case against her seeking to nullify her 2012 appointment as chief justice for failing to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) which was one of the requirements set by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

On May 11, the SC en banc voted 8-6 to grant the petition.

Aside from the impeachment proceedings, Sereno said the decision which was penned by Justice Noel Tijam also introduced “additional evidence of dishonesty.”

Among those cited by the SC is the allegation that, when she was still a professor, she had no permit from the University of the Philippines to engage in limited practice of profession while in government practice and that she committed tax fraud when she allegedly failed to truthfully declare her income.

“These additional issues ‘resolved’ by the majority were never raised by the OSG in its Petition and Reply. Neither were they included among the issues defined in the Amended Advisory for the oral arguments,” Sereno stated.

“More importantly, Respondent objected to the introduction of such issues during the Oral Argument and in her Supplement to her Memorandum Ad Cautelam. Accordingly, jurisdiction to try and decide such issues was never conferred upon this Honorable Court. Any judgment rendered thereon by this Honorable Court is therefore null and void,” she pointed out.