SC ‘contradicts’ self in quo warranto decision vs Sereno – pastor
The lead convener of the Coalition for Justice has criticized the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on the quo warranto petition against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, saying the decision “contradicts” previous SC rulings related to the filing of Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
“Notwithstanding the prior rulings of the SC on the SALNs, the quo warranto decision held that mere failure to prove the filing of SALNs as a teacher in UP is a ground to remove a sitting Chief Justice,” said Pastor Caloy Diño in a statement on Monday.
But according to Diño, there were previous cases wherein the decision of the high tribunal favored or showed leniency to government officials with discrepancies in their SALNs.
Diño cited as an example the ruling of the high tribunal in Ombudsman vs. Capulong, wherein a Customs officer failed to file his SALN for five years as well as disclose his wife’s business.
Diño said it was no less than Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro and Lucas Bersamin who voted to affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals, which cleared the customs officer from any wrongdoing.
De Castro and Bersamin, along with fellow SC Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, and Noel Tijam, voted in favor of the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida that removed Sereno from office.
Sereno has asked the six justices to inhibit from the quo warranto case due to their alleged prejudices against her. But none of the six magistrates inhibited from hearing the ouster petition.
Quo warranto: Political maneuvering
“The SC quo warranto decision is undoubtedly a political maneuvering of the most repulsive kind. Without neither precedent nor viable legal authority, it was propelled, singly and exclusively, though ferociously, by a desire to get rid of the Chief Justice through unconstitutional means,” Diño said.
Diño further referred to two other cases under the Presidential Anti-Graft and Corruption vs. Pleyto, wherein a regional director from the Department of Public Works and Highways did not include certain properties in his SALN.
According to Diño, the regional director was merely penalized for six months without pay under this case, which decision was affirmed by Bersamin, Peralta, and even SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Diño said that in case Sereno really failed to file her SALNs, this does not translate to an allegation of unexplained wealth since the concerned SALNs were even before her time as a member of the judiciary.
At most, he said, Sereno could only be penalized with a warning against repeating the omission and fined P5,000 for simple negligence. /kga
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