Sereno braves colleagues in oral arguments in Baguio
BAGUIO CITY – Embattled Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno braved the grumbling Supreme Court during the hearing the quo warranto petition by Chief governor lawyer Jose Calida asking her to step down over misdeclarations on statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN).
Emotions immediately flared up briefly after the oral arguments started around 2:30pm of April 10, Tuesday, between Sereno and Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro.
De Castro immediately asked an admission by Sereno if she submitted the government-required SALN when she applied to the SC, but the Chief Magistrate who went on indefinite leave amidst calls for her to resign before the Holy Week instead turned the tables back to how many of her colleagues did not file their SALNs.
Sereno balked that Associate Justice de Castro only submitted 15 SALNs, irking the latter all the more. The exchange could have been longer if not for the intercession of Acting Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio who cut “the exchange” short and ordered Sereno to answer.
Sereno claimed she submitted her SALN but hesitated to present it to the SC en banc, instead vowed to present it to the impeachment court citing the Doblada doctrine.
Hours before the oral arguments started, pro-Sereno groups from Metro Manila converged with militant groups in Baguio and marched towards the SC compound here to press Associate Justices De Castro, Noel Tijam, Francis Jardeleza, Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin, and to inhibit themselves for their alleged bias against the Chief Justice.
“Plain delicadeza, a sense of fairness and the greater interest of justice should compel (them),” the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), a group convened by former Senator Rene Saguisad, Mother Mary John Mananzan, Reps. Lorenzo Tanada III, Neri Colmenares, Antonio Tinio, UP Chancellor Michael Tan, Edith Burgos, Atty. Jose Diokno, and many others said. The SC, they added, “should not allow itself to be used as an instrument for Duterte’s tyrannical plot to gain absolute control of the Judiciary.”
At least 300 members of MAT, pro-Sereno groups including faith-based aggrupations, anti-dictatorship groups and militant groups under Cordillera Peoples Alliance converged at the Sunshine Park an hour before noon and marched from the top of Session Road to the Supreme Court compound but was cordoned by anti-riot police some 50 meters away from the main hall where the SC Justices held the oral arguments.
“In the final analysis, it is not Sereno that is on trial. It is the Supreme Court itself with people judging whether the justices live up to their duty of upholding the Constitution and the law, or be reduced to Duterte’s minions,” read MAT’s statement. ACE ALEGRE / ABN