DESPITE her ouster, sacked chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno continues to use her high-end sport utility vehicle (SUV) to get to her speaking engagements other engagements.
This has prompted Supreme Court justices to issue an ultimatum to Sereno to return the Toyota Land Cruiser issued to her following her ouster through quo warranto proceedings, in which she was found to have been disqualified for her post because of her failure to submit a complete set of financial disclosure statements.
Well-placed sources told The Manila Times the high court decided last week to give Sereno until June 30 to return the vehicles issued to her, her security and her staff.
The justices expect the motion for reconsideration in the quo warranto proceedings to be resolved by that time, sources said.
The court en banc has scheduled for June 19 the voting and resolution on the motion of Sereno to take a second look into her case.
A source said Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio would be tasked to issue the resolution on the return of the vehicles.
Sereno had charged expenses related to her use of the SUV to the court, requesting for a reimbursement for the period February 28 to March 12.
The expenses included four sets of front and rear brake pads (P14,400), one set tire size 120/70 ZR 17 and 190/50 ZR 17 (P19,100), and gasoline and diesel fuel.
Sereno defended her office’s purchase of the Toyota SUV in an interview with the BBC’s “Hardtalk,” hosted by broadcaster Stephen Sackur.
“The rule says that whatever security vehicle the President is entitled to, I am [also]entitled to. It got full court approval, so that’s the end of it,” she said.
Sereno also denied splurging on taxpayers’ money and staying in expensive hotel suites.
Business trips, she added, were de rigueur for someone who held a high government position.
When Sackur asked her what she would do if her motion for reconsideration to reverse the quo warranto decision was junked, the ousted chief justice said “the fight for the country’s constitutional way of life is much more important than just one position.”
She also stressed that she was not a politician or an opposition figure.
“What I understand is that right now, my present role is that there is a voice that must be heard, people are asking me to speak for them, and I have said, ‘Yes! Whether I am retained as a chief justice or whether I am removed as a chief justice, the mission for justice must continue,” Sereno added.
On Tuesday, the former chief justice vowed to continue her fight and told her supporters that the next battle will be at the Senate.
Sereno had insisted that her removal via quo warranto was illegal since she can only be ousted through impeachment.
WITH REGINAN KURT IVAN ABANG
BY JOMAR CANLAS, TMT ON
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