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SC wraps up oral arguments on quo warranto petition vs. Sereno

BAGUIO CITY — Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Tuesday evening directed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Solicitor General Jose Calida to submit their respective memorandum on the petition that seeks the top magistrate's ouster.

At the end of the oral arguments on Calida's petition for quo warranto, Carpio ordered both parties to turn in their memorandum and all the documents requested from them on or before April 20 without extension.

After this, the case will be deemed submitted for the resolution, said Carpio, before ending more than five hours of oral arguments that were marked with heated exchanges, mostly between Sereno and Associate Justice Teresita de Castro.

A memorandum contains a summary of arguments, which may include additional claims that will bolster the parties' positions.

De Castro vs. Sereno

De Castro was the first to question Sereno, immediately launching into Calida's main allegation — the filing of her SALNs.

De Castro asked Sereno if she had "religiously complied" with the filing of her SALNs.

Sereno, upon prodding by Carpio, eventually said: "Under the Doblada Doctrine, I maintain that I consistently filed my SALNs as required by law."

The Doblada case involved a court sheriff who was sued for acquiring properties that were out of proportion with his salary. The SC eventually ruled that just because his SALNs could no longer be found does not mean he failed to file them.

Sereno's invocation of the Doblada Doctrine, however, only came after a tense exchange, which included De Castro "vehemently" denying some unspecified allegations in Sereno's motion asking her to inhibit from hearing Calida's petition for quo warranto. This motion was denied on Tuesday.

De Castro went on to accuse Sereno of making excuses for her alleged failure to produce her SALNs.


Sereno, meanwhile, seemed to have found an ally in Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who said integrity cannot be measured by a piece of paper, obviously referring to SALN.

Following De Castro's heated interpellation, Leonen said SALNs are a tool, but are not by themselves the measure of integrity.

"Integrity is not measured only by pieces of paper. It is helpful, in fact that is what the statements of assets and liabilities are, to catch someone with unexplained wealth but not to catch someone with unexplained poverty," he said.

His remarks followed a back-and-forth questioning, where Sereno mostly agreed with him, on topics that ranged from her teaching position at UP College of Law to the SALN requirements for applications to SC posts in different years.

Sereno's speaking trips

Associate Justice Noel Tijam, meanwhile, took an apparent swipe at Sereno's speaking engagements and media interviews while she was on an indefinite leave from the high court.

"I am happy you have productively used your leave while we were busy deciding lots of cases," Tijam said in what can be construed as a sarcastic remark.

"I understand you've been going around the country, attending lots of speaking engagements, also attending talk shows, giving interviews explaining your position on the impeachment charges as well as the quo warranto."

Tijam also expressed "alarm" over Sereno's "insinuation" that the allegations against her could be likened to a battle between good and evil. He said the court will decide on the petition based on evidence.


Carpio was the last to pose a question, asking Sereno's lawyer, Alexander Poblador, if the chief justice received any letter from the University of the Philippines' Human Resources Development Office reminding or telling her that she has missing SALNs at the said office.

"According to the Chief Justice, never, Your Honor," said Poblador.

One of the main issues that the Court will decide is whether or not it can assume jurisdiction over Calida's petition.

Sereno has contended that the high court does not have jurisdiction over her, insisting that she, an impeachable official, can only be removed from office through an impeachment process.

‘Is this not a court?’

Associate Justice Samuel Martires also questioned Sereno's lead counsel on her constant preference for a Senate impeachment trial.

Lawyer Alexander Poblador answered for Sereno during Martires' interpellation.

The lawyer explained his client's position, saying that she meant she was "forced to come here because of the petition for quo warranto."

"She said she would like her day in court, and her day in court is before the Senate," Poblador said, reiterating Sereno's common refrain.

To this, Martires said: "Is this not a court? You're calling the Senate a court?"

"For the impeachable offense, Your Honor, the Senate is the proper court," Poblador said. —KBK/NB, GMA News