Calida rejects bid for quo warranto plea vs De Castro
Solicitor General Jose Calida denied on Wednesday the request of a private citizen to initiate a similar quo warranto case against Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro.
In his response to the letter of a certain Jocelyn Marie F. Acosta, Calida said her request lacked merit.
Acosta wants a quo warranto petition against De Castro for the same reason as Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno – failure to submit complete statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALNs).
In many instances, Calida had said Sereno lacked integrity for her failure to comply with the SALN requirements.
He said Sereno could be subjected to a quo warranto proceeding because her appointment was invalid – even if she could only only be removed as chief justice by impeachment.
In her letter to Calida, Acosta said De Castro lacked integrity for submitting only 15 SALNs when she applied for the chief justice post in 2012.
But Calida, in his response to Acosta, said: “The rule vests on the Solicitor General the discretion to commence an action for quo warranto, if he has good reason to believe that the case can be established by proof. Your letter, however, does not advert to any supporting evidence. It is basic that evidence is the means to proof; proof is the result of evidence.”
He added that Acosta’s comparison on the cases of Sereno and De Castro had no basis.
“Justice De Castro, who is subject of your request, was appointed to the Supreme Court on Dec. 4, 2007. The argument which the OSG [Office of the Solictor General] propounded against Sereno does not apply to Justice De Castro since it was Sereno who was appointed as the chief justice without the qualifications back in 2012,” he said.
He added that his office pursued the case against Sereno before the SC not on the basis of the request by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari but rather based on the findings in the House impeachment hearings.
“Sereno’s eligibility was brought to our attention when it was found out in the course of the impeachment proceedings before the House of Representatives that she did not file her SALNs, as required by the JBC [Judicial and Bar Council] for the position of chief justice at that time,” he added.
Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto petition may be initiated by the solicitor general when “directed by the President of the Philippines, or when upon complaint or otherwise he has good reason to believe that any case specified in the preceding section can be established by proof, must commence such action.”
The SC is set to decide on Sereno’s case in a special session on May 17. /atm
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