SOLICITOR General Jose Calida on Friday played down the probative value of the nine statements of assets, liabilities and net worth recovered by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and said she was again misleading the public.
Calida said Sereno’s recovery of the missing SALNs would not weaken the quo warranto petition he filed against her before the Supreme Court, because those nine documents were not submitted to the Judicial and Bar Council when she applied for the post in 2012.
“Sereno again attempts to mislead the public,” Calida said in a text message.
“It has no bearing in the quo warranto case because she didn’t submit them to the JBC at the time these were required,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, kept up his scathing attacks on the chief justice, calling her “bobo” (stupid), and saying she should have been ousted a long time ago.
Duterte added 12 years—the time left in Sereno’s term—was “too long for an ignorant chief justice.”
“It’s too long. That’s enough. Give way. If I were you, I will resign,” he said.
In contrast, some senators noted that with the SALNs surfacing, the main cause of the petition has been rendered moot.
“The SC therefore has no other recourse but to remove it,” Senator Antonio Trillanes IV told the Standard.
“I don’t think much of the quo warranto petition,” added Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who also stood pat on his assertion that Sereno was qualified to be the chief justice.
“She went through the JBC and was duly appointed by the President [Benigno Aquino III],” Recto added.
Sereno’s lawyers on Thursday said she has recovered nine of her missing SALNs for the years 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997.
These plus two found with the Office of the Ombudsman bring the total to 11, lawyers Josalee Deinla and Jojo Lacanilao said.
However, Calida revealed that except for the 1989 SALN, those the chief justice supposedly recovered were the same ones submitted by his office to the Supreme Court.
“Assuming her ’89 SALN is not a fabrication, she still lacks 10 more,” the chief state lawyer said.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who filed the impeachment complaint against Sereno, also said the recovery the SALNs is immaterial because Sereno should have submitted all her SALNs when she was applying for the position of chief justice.
Gadon also said he doesn’t care if he’s disbarred as long as Sereno will be deposed from her post.
“By then, I would have done a humble service and contribution to the meaningful reform of the judiciary,” added the lawyer, who was criticized for publicly cursing and raising his middle finger at a gathering of Sereno supporters in Baguio City, in a statement.
“I don’t care if I am disbarred, I will still eat delicious food and live comfortably, I don’t depend on income from lawyering alone unlike some IBP officials,” he added.
Sereno’s incomplete submission of the required SALNs during her application is the solicitor general’s basis for filing a quo warranto petition seeking the nullification of her appointment, saying she had failed to meet the requirements at the time.
During oral arguments on the quo warranto case on Tuesday, Sereno disputed allegations that she did not qualify for the position of chief justice because she failed to submit some of her SALNs as required by law when she applied for the post.
Gadon said Sereno’s behavior during the oral arguments worked to her disadvantage.