Monday, March 26, 2018

Damay-damay na’to! CJ Sereno drags other SC Justices into the SALN issue

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in her desperate attempt to defend herself from the SALN irregularities issue which is one major ground for her pending impeachment complaint, has dragged her fellow Supreme Court Justices into the controversy.
In her official statement against the quo warranto petition recently filed by Solicitor general Jose Calida, the Chief Justice’s major argument asserts that SALN submission to the Judicial Bar and Council (JBC) is not an “absolute requirement” for those vying for the highest magisterial position.

Additionally, Sereno asserted that among the candidates shortlisted by the JBC for the chief justice post, she was not the only one with incomplete SALN declarations. This deficiency according to Sereno did not stop the JBC from ruling out that the candidates have “substantially complied” with the documentary requirements.

It can be recalled that Calida’s petition to oust Sereno is primarily anchored  on the Chief Justice’s failure to provide a complete copy of her SALN especially during the time when she served as a professor at the University of the Philippines from 1986 to 2006.

In her 130-page response, Sereno has called out names of her fellow magistrates which according to her also had lacking SALN declarations but still were shortlisted by the JBC as official candidates for the Chief Justice position. They were: Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, and retired Justices Arturo Brion and Roberto Abad.

In addition, Sereno took into account a total of 14 out of 20 candidates for the Chief justice post in 2012, to have failed in submitting complete SALNs.

"Nevertheless, they were reconsidered to have 'substantially complied' with the SALN requirement, and hence were interviewed for the position," Sereno claimed.

The Chief Justice has also pointed out that declaring the completeness and substantiality of the documents submitted by any candidates or applicant is based upon the discretion of the JBC alone.

"Moreover, the mere failure to submit SALNs to the JBC would not automatically have disqualified an applicant, especially if she could explain the reason for the non-submission," she added.

Sereno, still on her elaborate response to Calida’s petition, has cited that over 300 candidates for any judicial posts have been shortlisted by the JBC albeit absence of deficiency in the required documents especially SALN declarations.

Currently, the Chief Justice is on an indefinite leave in preparation for her senate impeachment trial. It is during this senate-sponsored investigation that Sereno intends to provide her disputed SALNs which she failed to submit prior to her appointment as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Recently the House Committee on Justice, with 33-1 vote, has finalized the articles for Sereno’s impeachment which will then be forwarded to the Senate for perusal and in-depth investigation.

Source: CNN Philippines