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Suspended lawyer asks SolGen to start quo warranto proceedings vs. Sereno

A suspended lawyer on Wednesday asked Solicitor General Jose Calida to initiate proceedings that would challenge "de facto" Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's "claim" to the top magistrate post.

In a two-page letter dated February 21, 2018, Eligio Mallari, who leads a group that unsuccessfully tried to impeach Sereno, asked Calida to initiate quo warranto proceedings to try Sereno's claim to the post.

According to the rules of court, the government can initiate quo warranto proceedings against a person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office; a public person who commits an act that serves as a ground for the forfeiture of the position; or an association which acts as a corporation in the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority to act.

Mallari cited Sereno's alleged failure to submit all her Statements of Assets, Liabilites and Net Worth (SALN), a requirement by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), and remarks by two Supreme Court justices and a congressman that are unfavorable to the Chief Justice's appointment.

For one, Mallari mentioned Leyte Representative Vicente Veloso — though wrongly identifying him as former Leyte Rep. Eduardo Veloso — who said that Sereno's appointment could be "void from the beginning."

He also cited Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta's remark that Sereno's appointment may be considered "de facto" and Associate Justice Teresita de Castro's comment that it was unfair to other candidates.

All statements were from the hearing of the House Committee on Justice on the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno by lawyer Larry Gadon.

Mallari also mentioned Sereno's supposed "very low score or failing mark" in a psychological test taken before her inclusion in the shortlist to the post, which she assumed in 2012.

"Any lawyer worth his salt would tell you that Sereno's title to the office could be tried in a quo warranto proceeding," Mallari said in the letter.

He said a member of the judiciary "must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence."

"Right now, Sereno's competence and integrity are under intense public scrutiny. Having scored very low or flunked the psychological test and in view of non-submission of all her SALNs prior to appointment, Sereno's claim to the position is tenuous, and must be challenged in a quo warranto proceeding by the Solicitor General," he said.

Weeks ago, Mallari was suspended by the Supreme Court from law practice for two years over what it found were delaying tactics on his part to prevent government forfeiture of two of his properties over unsettled loans.

GMA News Online has sought comment from Sereno's camp but they have yet to respond as of posting time. —KBK, GMA News