HEADLINES; 5 SC justices rebuff Sereno
FIVE justices of the Supreme Court (SC) are set to deny the plea of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that they not participate in the quo warranto case filed against her by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Sereno filed separate motions asking Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam to recuse from the case.
The five justices testified against Sereno when the Justice panel of the House of Representatives heard the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno.
Tijam was named the ponente of the quo warranto case. He will study the case and submit a recommendation to the SC en banc.
The solicitor general, in his quo warranto petition, asked the high tribunal to nullify Sereno’s appointment as chief justice. He claimed that Sereno is unlawfully holding her post because she did not fully disclose her wealth.
The high court will hear oral arguments on the case on Tuesday, April 10. Sereno had said she will attend the proceedings.
According to well-placed sources, the five justices refused to inhibit themselves from the case.
A source said Tijam will submit his draft resolution denying the motion to inhibit filed by Sereno.
Tijam pointed out that there is no legal basis for him to inhibit, rejecting Sereno’s claim that he was biased against her and that his participation in the proceedings would violate her constitutional right to due process.
The chief justice claimed that Tijam showed his bias during his testimony before the House of Representatives when he encouraged her to participate in the proceedings or she will be held liable for violating the Constitution.
She added that Tijam wore “a touch of red” on the so-called “Red Monday” protest on March 12, 2018 when judges and court employees urged the chief justice to resign.
Tijam however said Sereno followed his advice since she had declared several times that she will face the impeachment court.
He added that justices showed no bias when they testified against Sereno at the House of Representatives since they only stressed the need for her to take part in the impeachment proceedings.
“As to the act of wearing a red tie which purportedly establishes Justice Tijam’s prejudice against her, the argument is baseless and unfair. There is no basis, whether in logic or in law, to establish a connection between a piece of clothing and a magistrate’s performance of adjudicatory functions. Absent compelling proof, the red piece of clothing was merely coincidental and should not be deemed a sufficient ground to disqualify Justice Tijam,” a draft of the magistrate’s resolution said.
“Verily, the right of a party to seek the inhibition or disqualification of a judge who does not appear to be wholly free, disinterested, impartial and independent in handling the case must be balanced with the latter’s sacred duty to decide cases without fear of repression. The movant must therefore prove the ground of bias and prejudice by clear and convincing evidence to disqualify a judge from participating in a particular trial. In all, respondent’s allegations are obviously conjectural and are unsupported by sufficient proof. Her statements merely tend to cast aspersion on the integrity and competence of the members of this Court,” he added.
The other justices who Sereno wanted out of the quo warranto case have yet to submit their own answer to the petition.
Peralta, when he testified in the House of Representatives, said Sereno’s appointment could be considered void because she failed to submit her Statements of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN) when she applied for chief justice before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
Bersamin testified on the alleged rigging of the Maute cases pending at the high court.
Jardeleza, on the other hand, was opposed by Sereno when he applied for Associate Justice of the high court.
Sereno wants de Castro out of the case because she believes that the associate justice “already prejudged the issue regarding the validity of the Chief Justice’s nomination and subsequent appoint / ment in 2002.”
De Castro, during the impeachment hearing on January 29, 2018, repeatedly stated under oath that the Chief Justice was disqualified by virtue of her non-submission to the JBC of her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth when she was a law professor at the University of the Philippines. / BY JOMAR CANLAS, TMT ON
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