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De Castro calls out Sereno for raising impeachment issue in speech

Tension marred a Manila Hotel event on Thursday after Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita de Castro openly called out Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was present, for talking about her looming impeachment in her speech.

The two top women justices shared one stage at a convention of the Philippine Women Judges Association at the Manila Hotel where they delivered speeches.

In her speech, Sereno reiterated her desire to have her day at the Senate impeachment court. On the same morning, the House justice committee found probable cause to endorse the impeachment complaint against her to the plenary.

But Sereno had not yet gone back to her seat before De Castro, who had testified against Sereno in the House hearings, approached the podium and commanded the microphone.

"I'm very sorry that the chief justice has taken this opportunity to discuss a matter which is sub judice," she said.

"We have given her all the courtesy, and I sincerely hope that she should not have dealt with a matter which is pending with the court," De Castro added, to some applause from the crowd.

De Castro was part of the Supreme Court en banc "consensus" that compelled the embattled Sereno to take an indefinite leave.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the acting chief justice, said at a television interview that the court, including Sereno, agreed on such an action to "preserve the integrity" of the tribunal while its leader faces a removal bid.

In one House justice committee hearing, De Castro said it was a "grave injustice" to have Sereno on the list of nominees for the post of chief justice when she allegedly did not complete all the required paperwork for the application.

She was referring to Sereno's alleged incomplete submission of her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, which eventually became the basis of Solicitor General Jose Calida's petition for quo warranto.

At another hearing, De Castro said it was a "disappointment" when Sereno was named top magistrate in 2012 by then-President Benigno Aquino III. At the time, Sereno had been associate justice for only two years.

De Castro had also vied for the position of chief justice to replace the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was removed from office in 2012. —KBK, GMA News