CJ misleads public anew
on SALN retrievals —Solgen Calida
With President Duterte returning to the country from his five-day trip to Hainan, China and Hong Kong, the embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice on-leave Lourdes Sereno, who has been provoking the President with insults, likening Duterte to Herod of biblical times and virtually calling him the evil of a dictator in the country and destroying the independence of the judiciary as well as democracy, Duterte gave as good as he got and went into a series of insults against her, as he urged her to resign from her post. On the same day, Solicitor-General Jose Calida again accused Sereno of lying when she and her lawyers claimed that the CJ succeeded in retrieving her SALNs, which Calida stressed is a lie, since Sereno merely copied the SALNs he had retrieved and had submitted to the High Court in his earlier reply.
As such, since the CJ failed to submit to the SC her required SALNs, the burden of proof, Calida said, now lies with Sereno.
The President told reporters in Davao City that he really believes the Chief Justice is “ignorant.”
“Do you know why I castigate you (CJ) in public? Because you are ignorant!” Mr. Duterte said, addressing Sereno.
“That’s why you really have to go, even back then. You’re already stupid. You keep on saying all sorts of things,” he added.
Sereno, in recent series of speaking engagements and media interviews, has been indirectly tagging the President as being behind the challenges in hurdling a quo warranto case before the High Court which will likely vote to remove her from the top SC post and the head of the judiciary, since the claim is that her appointment to the CJ post is void ab initio.
The President pointed out that the Chief Justice’s “ignorance” is a threat to the country.
“You are that ignorant, you better go. You are just risking the country going into chaos,” Mr. Duterte said.
“Get off your post. In the first place, you should not be there. And that term of yours, until what…2030? That’s too long for an ignorant Chief Justice,” he added.
Stressing that the quo warranto petition against Sereno originally did not come from Mr. Duterte, Calida wants the Supreme Court to oust its chief magistrate for allegedly not filing her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) during her application for the Chief Justice post in 2012.
Sereno is also facing an impeachment complaint at the Lower House, which she claims she has been waiting for, seeking an immediate Senate trial.
Mr. Duterte moreover clarified that he is asking his partymates — not the Congress as a body itself — to fast-track the impeachment process against Sereno.
The Chief Executive emphasizes that is not crossing the separation of powers in doing so.
“I am directing my party-mates… I am asking you to impeach the Chief Justice,” Mr. Duterte said.
The House of Representatives’ justice committee headed by Rep. Rey Umali, had already approved the impeachment complaint against Sereno, and the next step is to prepare the Articles of Impeachment, after which, the House votes in plenary for the approval of the House, which will then submit this to the Senate, should the required number vote for a Senate trial.
“So I’m asking my party-mates in Congress. Who am I to direct the Senate? We are not talking of conviction,” he added.
CJ’s SALNs retrieved by Solgen
SolGen Calida said the SALNs retrieved by the camp of Chief Justice Sereno are the same documents his office had obtained and submitted much earlier to the Supreme Court, calling the top magistrate’s move as an attempt to “mislead the Filipino people.”
Calida reacted to claims made by one of Sereno’s spokesmen, lawyer Josalee Deinla, that Sereno managed to recover the SALNs she had filed when she was still law professor at the University of the Philippines (UP).
Deinla cited the nine SALNs were for the years 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 from the UP Law Center.
“Today, Sereno again attempted to mislead the Filipino people. Sereno claims to have recovered eight of her SALNs. Except for her 1989 SALN, assuming it is not a fabrication, those Sereno supposedly ‘recovered’ were the same ones submitted by the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) to the Supreme Court,” Calida posted on Twitter Thursday.
He also posted on Twitter the reply letter of UP Human Resources Development Office director Angelo Escoto, noting that UP provided the OSG copies of Sereno’s SALN for the years 1985, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994,1995, 1996, 1997 and 2002.
“As Petitioner, the Republic has the ‘burden of proof’ to establish that Sereno failed to file her SALNs. This certification from the UP HRDO is proof enough,” the OSG chief noted.
“The burden now shifts to Sereno, who must offer evidence that she indeed filed her SALNs,” he added.
Calida filed before the SC a quo warranto petition which sought to void her 2012 appointment as chief justice for failing to comply with the requirements of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) by filing her SALNs.
Sereno faced her probing colleagues at the Supreme Court in Baguio City on Tuesday, a first in Philippine history.
The SC held oral arguments on the quo warranto petition filed by the OSG against Sereno, seeking to nullify her appointment over her alleged non-filing of her SALNs.
It will be recalled that the Judicial ad Bar Council officer testified before the House justice panel that Sereno had submitted only three SALNs, two of which were not notarized, and which were said to be fabricated by Sereno.
Sereno was even required by her colleagues to answer their questions under oath.
The submission of the SALN is a JBC requirement when she applied for the associate justice post in 2010 and for the chief justice post in 2012, Calida said.
While admitting that Sereno is an impeachable officer, Calida said she may still be removed from office through a quo warranto petition.
He said the offenses that may warrant the filing of a quo warranto petition are different from the offenses that would warrant the filing of an impeachment complaint.
Sereno, currently on indefinite leave from office, has sought the dismissal of the case, arguing that the SC has no jurisdiction and authority to remove her from office because the 1987 Constitution provides that she could only be ousted by impeachment in Congress as an impeachable official.
Citing Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution, she said impeachable officials — including herself and all justices of the SC — may only be removed from office upon impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court.
Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio ended the oral arguments by directing both parties to submit their respective memorandums and pertinent documents on or before April 20.
Roque: SC should handle recovered CJ SALNs
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. yesterday said that the so-called recovered SALNs of the CJ should be handled by the SC since it is the court hearing the quo warranto petition against Sereno.
“The alleged discovery of missing SALNs should be addressed by the SC, the latter being the tribunal hearing the quo warranto petition,” Roque said in a statement.
Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin who belongs to the House minority opposed this, saying that this should be submitted to the Senate for trial, should the required number of House members vote to impeach Sereno in plenary.
“The battle now shifts to the impeachment court which is the Senate. The House leadership has long decided that CJ Sereno is guilty sans the plenary vote,” he said.
Villarin welcomed the retrieval of the documents saying “it should put to rest the issue of her (Sereno’s) non-filing of SALNs,” and for the petition filed by Calida be dimissed.
“To save face over taking the issue which the SC has no jurisdiction, it should dismiss the quo warranto petition immediately,” he said.
“It was a non-justiciable issue brought mainly as a harassment suit by Solicitor General Jose Calida under direct orders of President Duterte who declares anyone critical of him as an enemy,” he added.
Meanwhile, it was Sereno’s spokesman, lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, who also claimed that the Chief Justice “recently” recovered 11 of her SALNs.
“She recently retrieved her 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 SALNs from the UP Law Center,” he said, without admitting that the retrieval of the CJ’s SALN, were copied from SolGen Calida’s retrieved SALNs of the CJ.
These were submitted to the High Court as his evidence. The burden of proof now lies on Sereno. With PNA
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