The Infinity Gauntlet in Sereno decision

By: Oscar Franklin Tan May 14,2018 - 10:33 PM

The most shocking plot twist in the quo warranto case is not how our Supreme Court voted 8-6 to “oust” Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

It is how three dissenters voiced universe-shattering criticism of her integrity.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio’s word has an Infinity Gauntlet’s force. No less than Carpio wrote: “In light of her previous failure to file her [statement of assets, liabilities and net worth] for several years while she was a UP College of Law professor, her failure to file her SALN upon assuming office in 2010 as Associate Justice of this Court constitutes culpable violation of the Constitution.”

The most senior, most respected justice of godlike stature sent shockwaves across the universe by explicitly stating Sereno must be impeached based on the evidence on her SALNs, despite rejecting quo warranto.

Carpio cites “culpable violation of the Constitution,” a constitutional ground for impeachment.

SALNs are explicitly required by the Constitution itself.

Beyond her University of the Philippines SALNs, Carpio emphasized her first SALN as a justice violated regulations.

It was not sworn.

It stated her net worth as of Dec. 31, 2009, not the day she assumed office.

Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe, appointed by President Benigno Aquino III like Sereno, ended her dissent: “if there is one thing that is glaringly apparent … it is actually the lack of respondent’s candor and forthrightness in the submission of her SALNs.”

Justice Marvic Leonen, another Aquino appointee, stressed his dissent was not “a shield for the respondent to be accountable for her actions.”

Leonen refuted Sereno was ousted for anti-administration positions. This is “too much of a political narrative which elided her own accountability.”

Sereno, he outlined, voted pro-administration to reject a joint session of Congress to declare martial law, uphold the choice of House of Representatives minority leader and uphold a curfew for minors.

Her presiding over the May 11 session on her own case “border[ed] on the contumacious.” Leonen decried her inaccurate announcements “to suit her personal agenda,” “[f]alse narratives designed to simplify and demonize an entire institution” and “underserved, speculative, callous, ad hominem, and irrelevant attacks on [justices’] personal reputation.”

Justice Alfredo Caguioa, the final Aquino appointee, wrote the most spirited defense.

Even he lamented “internal matters that, to some, bespeak the lack of able leadership by the Chief Justice” and the Supreme Court’s “inability to resolve this leadership issue within its own walls.”
My past columns echo the dissents.

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TAGS: decision, Sereno

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