The trial of Saint Sereno

By Oscar Franklin Tan April 16,2018

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno stated last March 19 that Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio failed to submit his SALNs (statements of assets, liabilities and net worth) to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

Carpio never said a word.

By the week’s end, the JBC certified that it had Carpio’s SALNs dating back to 1992. The challenge to Carpio’s integrity vanished instantly.

It was a complete contrast when Sereno was asked by her peer justices last April 10 whether she filed her SALNs as a University of the Philippines professor from 1985 to 2006, in her quo warranto case.

The hearing’s first question exemplified how Sereno’s answers came with multiple legal disclaimers.

Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro opened: “Did you religiously comply with the submission of the SALN as mandated by law?”Sereno digressed: “Before I answer, can I have that assurance that should a quo warranto petition be filed against any of you … that you would also, under oath, declare before this court, answer all questions regarding your SALNs.”

De Castro followed up: “Will you please answer the question?”Carpio soon intervened: “Will Chief Justice just answer the question please?”

Finally, Sereno replied: “Under the Doblada doctrine, I maintain that I consistently filed my SALNs as required by law, OK?”This was the first of several disclaimers.

The 2005 Doblada case, of a court sheriff guilty of corruption, held that one should not conclude an official never filed his SALNs just because they are missing (from UP, in Sereno’s case).

But citing Doblada is a legalistic, technical nonanswer.Sereno then misrepresented SALN regulations.

When officials assume office, they must file an “entry SALN” within 30 days “reckoned as of [their] first day of service,” per the Ombudsman’s rules under the Code of Conduct for Public Officials.

De Castro quoted this verbatim. She asked why Sereno was appointed a Supreme Court justice in August 2010 but filed a SALN as of December 2009. This violates the Ombudsman’s rules and distorts the base net worth filed.

It was a complete contrast when Sereno was asked by her peer justices last April 10 whether she filed her SALNs as a University of the Philippines professor from 1985 to 2006, in her quo warranto case.

The hearing’s first question exemplified how Sereno’s answers came with multiple legal disclaimers.

Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro opened: “Did you religiously comply with the submission of the SALN as mandated by law?”Sereno digressed: “Before I answer, can I have that assurance that should a quo warranto petition be filed against any of you … that you would also, under oath, declare before this court, answer all questions regarding your SALNs.”

De Castro followed up: “Will you please answer the question?”Carpio soon intervened: “Will Chief Justice just answer the question please?”

Finally, Sereno replied: “Under the Doblada doctrine, I maintain that I consistently filed my SALNs as required by law, OK?”This was the first of several disclaimers. The 2005 Doblada case, of a court sheriff guilty of corruption, held that one should not conclude an official never filed his SALNs just because they are missing (from UP, in Sereno’s case).

But citing Doblada is a legalistic, technical nonanswer.Sereno then misrepresented SALN regulations.

When officials assume office, they must file an “entry SALN” within 30 days “reckoned as of [their] first day of service,” per the Ombudsman’s rules under the Code of Conduct for Public Officials.

De Castro quoted this verbatim. She asked why Sereno was appointed a Supreme Court justice in August 2010 but filed a SALN as of December 2009.

This violates the Ombudsman’s rules and distorts the base net worth filed.

It was a complete contrast when Sereno was asked by her peer justices last April 10 whether she filed her SALNs as a University of the Philippines professor from 1985 to 2006, in her quo warranto case.

The hearing’s first question exemplified how Sereno’s answers came with multiple legal disclaimers.

Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro opened: “Did you religiously comply with the submission of the SALN as mandated by law?”Sereno digressed:

“Before I answer, can I have that assurance that should a quo warranto petition be filed against any of you … that you would also, under oath, declare before this court, answer all questions regarding your SALNs.”

De Castro followed up: “Will you please answer the question?”Carpio soon intervened: “Will Chief Justice just answer the question please?”

Finally, Sereno replied: “Under the Doblada doctrine, I maintain that I consistently filed my SALNs as required by law, OK?”This was the first of several disclaimers. The 2005 Doblada case, of a court sheriff guilty of corruption, held that one should not conclude an official never filed his SALNs just because they are missing (from UP, in Sereno’s case).

But citing Doblada is a legalistic, technical nonanswer.Sereno then misrepresented SALN regulations.

When officials assume office, they must file an “entry SALN” within 30 days “reckoned as of [their] first day of service,” per the Ombudsman’s rules under the Code of Conduct for Public Officials.

De Castro quoted this verbatim. She asked why Sereno was appointed a Supreme Court justice in August 2010 but filed a SALN as of December 2009.

This violates the Ombudsman’s rules and distorts the base net worth filed.

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