MANILA — Solicitor General Jose Calida on Saturday urged Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to “trust” her colleagues in the High Court in settling the quo warranto petition lodged against her.
“If indeed Sereno is the champion of judicial independence, why doesn’t she trust her peers and colleagues at the Supreme Court to judge the quo warranto case filed against her?” Calida said in a series of tweets on Saturday.
Calida criticized Sereno for projecting herself as a “crusader of judicial independence” but at the same time urging her fellow Supreme Court justices not to entertain the quo warranto petition filed by Calida on Monday.
“Instead, Sereno insists that the politicians in the Senate should try and judge her. Why is she afraid of the judiciary?” he added.
“Does she believe that the senators are more adept than the Supreme Court justices in resolving constitutional and legal issues,” the government’s chief lawyer asked.
With this, the Solicitor General stressed “Sereno is not fighting for judicial independence.”
“On the contrary, she is degrading and weakening the judiciary. How can the judiciary be independent when its “Chief Justice” relies on the legislature to decide her case? Isn’t that a brazen hypocrisy?” he said.
Sereno’s camp on Monday issued a statement urging the SC en banc not to entertain Calida’s quo warranto petition, calling it a “baseless” case.
Sereno is currently on an indefinite leave of absence from the high court to prepare for her looming trial at the Senate.
In her speech on Thursday during the annual national convention of the Philippine Women Judges Association (PWJA) held at the Manila Hotel, Sereno slammed her detractors for resorting to a different forum other than the process of impeachment, which under the Constitution, is the only legal method to remove a sitting Chief Justice from office.
“Indeed, I look at any forum to try me other than the constitutionally exclusive forum of impeachment as an admission by the complainant and my other detractors that after 15 hearings, they have failed to come up with any evidence with which I can be convicted in the Senate,” Sereno emphasized.
“Sila ang nagsimula bakit ayaw nilang tapusin? Napakaaga naman yata para umamin sila na wala silang napala kundi matinding kabiguan kaya’t kung anu-ano na lamang ang gimik ang ginagawa nila masunod lamang ang kanilang nais.[They started it, how come they do not want to finish it? Isn’t it too early to admit that they got nothing except utter failure thus they resort to all sorts of gimmick to get what they wanted.],” Sereno added.
Sereno maintained she will not bow down to pressure and step down as demanded by her accusers and critics.
“The oath I have taken is to protect the Constitution, the independence of the judiciary and to take a stand for every judge whose freedom of conscience I have consistently done my best to defend,” Sereno stressed. “All kinds of lies, threats, harassment and bullying have been thrown my way. But I will not yield.”
Pending the impeachment trial in the Senate, the Chief Justice urged her colleagues to “dispel all thoughts and impulses of malice and ill will for they serve no good purpose and bring nothing but shame.”
“We must denounce gossiping and unfounded innuendos and try our best to preserve our dignity as members of the judiciary. And, true to our oath as judges, we do not judge anyone until all the evidence is in.”
The OSG’s quo warranto petition, which seeks to nullify Sereno’s appointment to the judiciary’s top post, is currently pending in the SC.
The High Court has earlier ordered Sereno to respond to the petition within 10 days.
Last Thursday, the House committee on justice overwhelmingly voted, 38-2, in finding probable cause to impeach Sereno.
The impeachment complaint contains four grounds, including corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.
The complaint also alleged 27 acts constituting the offenses charged against the Chief Justice. (PNA)