MANILA Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had already retrieved more than half of her missing Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, which she had filed as law professor at the University of the Philippines from 1986 to 2006.
This was bared Saturday by lawyer Josalee Deinla, one of Sereno's spokespersons, adding that at least 11 of the 21 missing SALNs have been found by the Chief Justice prior to Solicitor General Jose Calida's submission of the top magistrate's SALNs to the Supreme Court on March 27, 2018.
Deinla said the fact that Calida himself confirmed that he had obtained the SALNs himself proved that the Chief Justice had indeed filed her UP SALNs contrary to solicitor general's claim in his petition.
SolGen Calida's quo warranto petition was based on his claim that since CJ Sereno did not file UP SALNs and that she failed to meet the constitutional requirement of proven integrity when she failed to submit her UP SALNs to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), Deinla said in a statement.
Deinla cited Paragraph 23 of the petition where Calida categorically and without qualification stated that the Chief Justice only filed SALNs for the years 1998, 2002 and 2006 during her tenure as law professor at the UP College of Law from 1986 up to 2006.
Calida, however, submitted in his reply to the SC on March 27, 2018 Sereno's eight SALNs for the years 1985, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997, she said.
Deinla added that Calida's admission that he had also retrieved Sereno's UP SALNs and submitted the same to the high tribunal in his reply should result in the immediate dismissal of the petition,.
His submission is an admission that his petition is baseless. The recovery of most of the SALNs destroys the SolGen's main argument that the Chief Justice should be removed from office on ground that she failed to file her SALNs and submit them to the JBC, Deinla said.
She said Calida could not claim that he was the one who retrieved the SALNs since even before the SolGen submitted it to the SC, the Chief Justice had already informed the high tribunal in her comment filed on March 19 that she had already recovered most of the missing SALNs.
This proves that the Chief Justice had found the missing SALNs even before the SolGen submitted them to the Supreme Court on March 27, 2018, Deinla said.
The Chief Justice, Deinla said, intends to present the recovered UP SALNs to the Senate impeachment court, without prejudice to her legal defenses in light of the fact that her alleged failure to file SALNs before she joined the SC is not within the scope of the impeachment complaint or the grounds for impeachment provided in the Constitution.
On Friday, Calida said the SALN retrieved by the camp of Sereno were the same documents his office had obtained and submitted to the Supreme Court, calling the top magistrate's move as an attempt to mislead the Filipino people.
Today, Sereno again attempted to mislead the Filipino people. Sereno claims to have recovered eight of her SALNs. Except for her 1989 SALN, assuming it is not a fabrication, those Sereno supposedly 'recovered' were the same ones submitted by the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) to the Supreme Court, Calida posted on Twitter.
He also posted the reply letter of UP Human Resources Development Office director Angelo Escoto, noting that UP provided the OSG copies of Sereno's SALN for the years 1985, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994,1995, 1996, 1997 and 2002.
As Petitioner, the Republic has the 'burden of proof' to establish that Sereno failed to file her SALNs. This certification from the UP HRDO is proof enough, the OSG chief noted.
The burden now shifts to Sereno, who must offer evidence that she indeed filed her SALNs, he added.
Calida filed before the SC a quo warranto petition which sought to void her 2012 appointment as chief justice for failing to comply with the requirements of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) by filing her SALNs.
Sereno faced her probing colleagues at the Supreme Court in Baguio City on Tuesday, a first in Philippine history.
The SC held oral arguments on the quo warranto petition filed by the OSG against Sereno, seeking to nullify her appointment over her alleged non-filing of her SALN.
Sereno was even required by her colleagues to answer their questions under oath.
The submission of the SALN was a JBC requirement when she applied for the associate justice post in 2010 and for the chief justice post in 2012, Calida said.
While admitting that Sereno is an impeachable officer, Calida said she may still be removed from office through a quo warranto petition.
He said the offenses that may warrant the filing of a quo warranto petition are different from the offenses that would warrant the filing of an impeachment complaint.
Sereno, who is presently on indefinite leave from office, has sought the dismissal of the case, arguing that the SC has no jurisdiction and authority to remove her from office because the 1987 Constitution provides that she could only be ousted by impeachment in Congress as an impeachable official.
Citing Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution, she said impeachable officials including herself and all justices of the SC may only be removed from office upon impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court.
Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio ended the oral arguments by directing both parties to submit their respective memoranda and pertinent documents on or before April 20. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency