Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has apologized for the "inaccuracy" committed by one of her spokespersons as regards the nature of her leave of absence from the Supreme Court.
Sereno made the statement after 13 of her fellow justices said that they reached a consensus during the en banc session on Tuesday that she should take an indefinite leave. A spokesman said that she was only taking a two-week "wellness leave."
The justices said they regretted "the confusion that the announcements and media releases of the spokespersons of the Chief justice have caused, which seriously damaged the integrity of the judiciary in general and the Supreme Court in particular."
"It is unfortunate that my plan of making use of an already approved wellness leave in relation to an indefinite leave was inaccurately conveyed for which I apologized," Sereno said in a statement.
She said going on indefinite leave did not mean she was resigning.
"I have not resigned and I will not resign. This indefinite leave is not a resignation. I will devote my time to the preparation of my Senate defense and work on the cases in my docket," Sereno said.
Sereno said she understood that her fellow justices wanted her to "cause the announcement" of her "indefinite leave."
"I had agreed to go on an indefinite leave, but I am also bound by the appropriate administrative rules. The rules do not contain any provision on 'indefinite leave,'" Sereno said.
Sereno said she had to qualify her leave according to the provisions of Rule 7, Section 6(c) of the internal rules of the Supreme Court on members who are on vacation, wellness, or sick leave for at least 15 continuous calendar days being exempt from raffle.
She also referenced a supposed January 23 resolution on her "approved wellness leave."
"I requested yesterday in writing the rescheduling of my wellness leave in view of my restudy of the rules," Sereno said.
It was lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, a spokesperson for Sereno, who initially said the Chief Justice was taking a "wellness leave."
House justice committee chair Reynaldo Umali said a source informed him that the nature of the leave was "indefinite."
A letter Sereno sent to the deputy court administrator referred to her absence as an "indefinite leave," part of which would be charged against her "wellness leave" in order to prepare for what she is anticipating would be a Senate impeachment trial.
The House panel is set to vote on the determination of the existence of probable cause in the impeachment complaint against Sereno on March 7. —NB, GMA News