Maria Lourdes Sereno remains as the Chief Justice pending her motion for reconsideration of a Supreme Court (SC) ruling that granted a quo warranto pe
Maria Lourdes Sereno remains as the Chief Justice pending her motion for reconsideration of a Supreme Court (SC) ruling that granted a quo warranto petition removing her from her post, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) said on Friday.
The JBC screens applicants for the post of the chief justice.
Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, the congressional representative in the JBC in his capacity as the chairman of the House Committee on Justice, said the council has deferred accepting applications for the chief justice post since the Supreme Court is yet to resolve Sereno’s motion for reconsideration.
Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the quo warranto petition against Sereno on grounds that she fell short of the standards of integrity and probity when she failed to submit her complete Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth during her tenure as a faculty member of the University of the Philippines College of Law to the JBC when she applied for the chief justice post in 2012.
Sereno had contended that she should be given her day in the Senate impeachment court since the 1987 Constitution states that impeachable officials such as the chief justice can only be removed via impeachment and that the House and the Senate have the sole authority to initiate and resolve impeachment cases, respectively.
“There are no candidates for Chief Justice yet. We have deferred the discussion on that since the [chief justice]position is not yet vacant. The Supreme Court’s decision [on Sereno’s quo warranto removal]is not yet final,” Umali, a lawyer, told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
“There are no applicants so far. We won’t open it until the Supreme Court decides with finality,” he said.
Umali clarified that women applicants for the chief justice post are not automatically disqualified even if President Rodrigo Duterte had said that he wants the next chief justice to have integrity and “most especially, [to be]not a woman.”
He was referring to the rules that while the JBC evaluates applicants for the post of chief justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the council’s authority is only limited to screening the applicants and recommending a shortlist of applicants to the President.
“The appointment of the chief justice is a presidential prerogative. But that does not prevent the JBC from processing women applicants,” Umali pointed out.
The President can return the JBC’s recommended shortlist if he deems that nobody on it passes his standards.
Sereno, who was appointed by president Benigno Aquino 3rd in August 2012, is the first female Supreme Court Chief Justice.
She is also supposed to serve as the longest tenured chief justice since she was appointed as the country’s top magistrate when she was 52.
Gabriela party-list lawmakers Emerenciana de Jesus and Arlene Brosas earlier condemned President Duterte for undermining a woman’s capacity to be a chief justice.
“What does President Duterte fear [in]women? Why is he so threatened by women? He pushed the ouster of a female chief justice, ordered troops to shoot female rebels in the vagina, told soldiers to rape women in Marawi, and even allowed the removal of a ‘comfort woman’ statue from public sight. We are perturbed and extremely enraged that the sickest form of misogyny sits at the presidential seat in Malacañang,” the Gabriela lawmakers said in a statement.
“President Duterte’s statement that the next Chief Justice should not be a woman speaks boldly of his sick, macabre misogyny. It seems the quo warranto coup against former [Chief Justice] Sereno is not enough: he is yet again rewriting the laws and the Constitution to effectively bar a woman from the chief magistrate post. This runs counter to the constitutional mandate of the State to enable women to realize their full potential in the service of the nation,” the two lawmakers added.
‘You did this to yourself’
Also on Friday, Malacañang told Sereno to “closely look at the mirror” to see who was behind her removal from office.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. issued the statement a day after Sereno called for the resignation of President Rodrigo Duterte, who she said was behind her ouster.
“Ex-CJ Sereno should closely look at the mirror to see who is behind the Supreme Court ruling. She herself violated the Constitution by not filing her SALN, and she herself managed to alienate her own colleagues at the High Court,” Roque said.
Roque said the opposition may use Sereno as a “rallying poin.”
“I think the opposition is desperate, they are trying to find a rallying figure [against Duterte]and they chose [the ousted]Chief Justice. This is a big mistake because if we will believe in the surveys, the Chief Justice is not trusted and her approval rating is down to the gutter,” Roque said.
“If she is the rallying figure of the opposition, you are doomed,” he added.
WITH RALPH VILLANUEVA