Sereno, waging war on two fronts, seeks relay of impeachment papers
AFTER questioning the decision of the Supreme Court to hold a special session next month to resolve the quo warranto petition seeking to nullify her appointment, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is now begging the House of Representatives to immediately transmit the articles of impeachment against her to the Senate for trial.
“Let me fall at the mercy of God and the people. I am ready,” Sereno said during a forum at the Ateneo Law School, where she spoke about upholding judicial independence as a pillar of democracy.
She made her statement even as Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III on Wednesday said the senators who still sit in the jury would likely vote if Sereno’s impeachment trial would proceed once the Supreme Court decided to disqualify her.
Solicitor General Jose Calida had filed a quo warranto petition seeking to nullify Sereno’s appointment in 2012 as Chief Justice.
Also on Wednesday, Calida said he has denied the request of Jocelyn Marie Acosta to start a similar quo warranto proceeding against Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, a rival of Sereno’s.
Calida said his arguments to remove Sereno do not apply to De Castro since it was Sereno who was appointed as Chief Justice “without the qualifications back in 2012.”
A vocal supporter of Sereno who belongs to the group “The Silent Majority”, Acosta, as a private individual, wrote Calida on April 20 urging him to file the same petition against De Castro on the basis of alleged missing Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALNs.
The Supreme Court will decide on the petition of the Office of the Solicitor General against Sereno on May 17, while Congress will resume its sessions on May 15.
“Now that we are already involved in the proceedings, the question there is if the Senate will recognize the removal of the Chief Justice through the quo warranto,” Pimentel said.
Sereno criticized the reluctance of the House to immediately transmit her case to the Senate for trial.
She said Congress should not “dilly dally” and should put a stop to the “nightmare that has been dragging on since August [last year].”
“They have been so hard-pressed to say which [of the offenses hurled against me] are impeachable. I am not afraid of accountability,” Sereno said.
The House committee on Justice last month approved the articles of impeachment against Sereno.
The articles of impeachment will be submitted for plenary vote to determine if it will be transmitted to the Senate.
However, Sereno said she expected the case against her to be transmitted to the Senate and she had been preparing for it since she took a leave of absence from the Supreme Court.
“They concluded that the complaint was strong and sufficient in substance. My preparation is already for the Senate trial,” Sereno said.
Nonetheless, she said if the Senate found her guilty “I will leave because I understand the process.
“It is not a matter of hanging on to a position. It is not in defense of a person but in defense of a basic principle that make us a democratic nation.”
But for now, she said, she would continue her fight for what she believed was right.
In the same forum, Sereno warned of a creeping “dictatorship” where the Office of the Solicitor General may use the quo warranto proceedings to threaten all government employees.
“It is effectively dictatorship, because the future of so many, the rights of so many, are being held in the hands of the solicitor general and his boss,” Sereno said, citing the precedent set by Solicitor General Jose Calida who filed the quo warranto petition against her before the Supreme Court.
“This concoction of theirs came out of a brew that had been mixed in dark places and is the gravest wound that they could ever inflict on the Constitution,” Sereno said.
They had accused Duterte of having had hand in the ouster move initiated by the Solicitor General, prompting him to crack the whip on his allies in Congress to speed up the transmittal of the articles of impeachment against Sereno.