AFTER two months of being on leave, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno returned to work on Wednesday, May 9, after preparations for her impeachment trial at the Senate have finally been completed.
Wearing a pink belted dress, Sereno was defiant and unfazed as she went to her office amid the rumor that the majority of her colleagues are seeking the invalidation of her appointment as top magistrate. The pink color is said to symbolize her “happy” state of mind for being back.
According to Anacleto Lacanilao III, one of Sereno’s spokespersons, Sereno has “all the right under the law to come back” and that “she’s still the Chief Justice.”
“Now that the purpose of her leave of absence has been served, the chief justice will resume performing her constitutional mandate and discharging her responsibilities as head of judiciary,” Carlo Cruz, legal counsel of Sereno, said to the reporters.
Cruz also said that Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio had been informed of Sereno’s return.
Sereno had been on an indefinite leave of absence since March.
She will preside over the high tribunal’s special full-court session on Friday, May 11, but will recuse herself once the the quo warranto is tackled.
Sereno is facing impeachment in the House of Representatives, which is dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies, but Solicitor General Jose Calida separately filed a quo warranto petition against her for allegedly failing to submit all of her financial statements when she applied for the job in 2012.
On Wednesday, Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House justice committee, said that the panel would wait for the Supreme Court decision before proceeding with the impeachment case.
“If there will be an overwhelming vote favoring the quo warranto petition against the Chief Justice, I will recommend that the impeachment complaint against her be archived,” Umali told the media.
“But if there is a close vote in favor of the quo warranto petition, we will play it by ear. We will wait for the final Supreme Court ruling before making our final action on the impeachment complaint and I am confident this will be about declaring the process moot,” he said.
However, the House still has to follow its own rules by voting to dismiss the complaint, he added.