SolGen won’t initiate quo warranto case vs. De Castro

MANILA Solicitor General Jose Calida rejected the call of a private citizen for him to initiate another quo warranto petition, this time, challenging the authority of Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro to hold her post over her alleged failure to submit her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

This refers to your letter dated 20 April 2018, requesting the undersigned to initiate quo warranto proceedings against Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro for lacking integrity as a member of the Supreme Court. Your request is denied for lack of merit," Calida said in his response to Jocelyn Marie Acosta, who sent a four-page letter.

Acosta sought to invoke the same grounds raised by lawyer Eligio Mallari in his letter as sufficient grounds to file a similar petition for a quo warranto case against de Castro for the same reason in the case of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno�her failure to submit her complete statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN).

At the onset, let it be clear that the Office of the Solicitor General did not file the Petition for Quo Warranto against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno because of Atty. Mallari's letter. Sereno's eligibility was brought to our attention when it was found out in the course of the impeachment proceedings before the House of Representatives that she did not file her SALNs/ as required by the Judicial Bar Council for the position of Chief Justice at that time, Calida explained.

In her letter to Calida, Acosta said De Castro is lacking integrity after she submitted only her 15 SALNs when she applied for the Chief Justice post in 2012.

"The rule vests on the Solicitor General the discretion to commence an action for quo warranto, if he has good reason to believe that the case can be established by proof. Your letter, however, does not advert to any supporting evidence. It is basic that evidence is the means to proof; proof is the result of evidence, read the response letter of Calida.

He added that Acosta's comparison on the cases of Sereno and De Castro has no basis.

"Justice De Castro, who is subject of your request, was appointed to the Supreme Court on December 4, 2007. The argument which the OSG propounded against Sereno does not apply to Justice De Castro since it was Sereno who was appointed as the Chief Justice without the qualifications back in 2012," he said.

Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto petition may be initiated by the solicitor general when "directed by the President of the Philippines, or when upon complaint or otherwise he has good reason to believe that any case specified in the preceding section can be established by proof, must commence such action."

De Castro was among those who appeared before the congressional hearing and volunteered to prove that Sereno's apparent non-submission of all her SALNs means she should not have been considered for the chief justice post.

Last April 10, the High Court held oral arguments on the quo warranto petition filed by the OSG against Sereno, which sought to nullify her appointment over her alleged non-filing of her SALN.

Sereno faced her probing colleagues at the Supreme Court in Baguio City last April 10, a first in Philippine history.

Sereno was even required by her colleagues to answer their questions under oath.

During the interpellation a heated exchange argument between Sereno and de Castro on the latter's failure to submit copies of her SALNs which she claimed she had filed.

De Castro even accused Sereno of failing to religiously comply with Section 7 or Republic Act No. 3019 which requires every public officer, within 30 days after assuming office, and within the month of January of every other year thereafter, as well as upon the expiration of his term of office, or upon his resignation or separation from office a true detailed and sworn SALN, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year.

Acting Chief Justice and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier said the SC is set to decide on the quo warranto petition filed by the OSG to nullify the appointment of Sereno over her alleged non-filing of SALN in May.

The whole month of May is supposed to be for decision writing by the magistrates. However, the high court has set a special en banc session on May to come up with a ruling on the quo warranto case. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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