Philippine Solicitor General Jose Calida has called on the Supreme Court (SC) to put Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno “on equal footing with other public servants” when deciding on his quo warranto petition against her.
In a memorandum submitted to the SC on Friday, April 20, Calida insisted that Sereno’s appointment should be “void” from the start due to lack of integrity for her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth when she applied for the top judicial post.
“Respondent asserts that she complied with the SALN (Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) laws when she was a professor at the UP College of Law. The evidence belies her assertion,” the solicitor general said.
Citing Republic Acts 3019 and 6713, Calida noted that all public officials are required to annually file their SALNs.
“She can be measured with the same yardstick,” Calida said.
He stressed that Sereno “cannot be excused from complying with the law.”
“If lowly court employees could be penalized for failing to file SALNs, there is no reason why she should be considered eligible for appointment to the highest post in the judiciary notwithstanding her abject failure to comply with the SALN requirement,” he added.
In his quo warranto petition, Calida accused Sereno of failing to file her SALN 11 times over the course of the 20 years she was a law professor at the University of the Philippines (UP).
But contrary to Calida’s assertions, Sereno said she “religiously filed” her SALNs during her stint as a professor.
“The Chief Justice has recovered 11 of her UP SALNs, and she has direct proof that she executed at least 12 UP SALNs (i.e., for the years 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2002),” Sereno said in a memorandum she submitted to SC on Friday.
The chief justice also pointed out that her repeated filing of her SALNs proved that her “intent, plan and habit as a UP professor was to religiously file her SALNs.”
With Calida and Sereno having their memoranda filed before the high court, the quo warranto case is now deemed submitted for resolution.
According to Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the SC may decide on the quo warranto petition against Sereno’s appointment next month.
Carpio is currently the acting chief justice, as Sereno has been on leave since March 1 to prepare for a possible impeachment trial.
“We hope to decide as soon as we can. I cannot talk on that yet but we hope to finish it by end of May. By next month we should be able to decide it,” Carpio told reporters on Thursday, April 19.