Lawyer to SC: Nullify Sereno appointment to preserve judicial integrity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2) — A lawyer filed a petition on Friday asking the Supreme Court to nullify the appointment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

In his two-page petition, Oliver Lozano said Sereno's appointment should be declared void "to preserve the integrity of the judiciary and public faith in the justice system."

"The protracted and scandalous controversy over the validity of Chief Justice Sereno's appointment, and impeachment against her have caused deep division and dissension in the Bench and Bar," Lozano said.

He said Sereno did not comply with the mandatory legal requirements for her appointment in 2012.

In prior hearings of the House Justice panel on Sereno's impeachment case, two associate justices of the Supreme Court said Sereno should have been disqualified for the chief justice post when she failed to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) from 2002 to 2011.

READ: SC justices: Sereno's failure to submit SALN should have disqualified her application as CJ

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said the Office of the Solicitor General should consider questioning the validity of Sereno's appointment before the Supreme Court.

Alvarez said if the high court declares Sereno's appointment as invalid, the impeachment will be "moot and academic" since there will be no one to impeach in the first place.

He said only the Supreme Court has the power to decide if Sereno's appointment was valid, as only the Congress can impeach her.

READ: House Speaker: Sereno's appointment can be questioned before SC  

The Chief Justice in a speech on Friday called for respect for the impeachment process "by allowing it to take the only allowed course under the Constitution."

She urged Congress to finally start an impeachment trial at the Senate and slammed her critics for resorting to various actions to malign her.

READ: Sereno asks Congress to speed up impeachment case

If at least one-third of the members of the House of Representatives vote to impeach Sereno, the complaint would go to trial at the Senate.

Sereno is accused of violating the Constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes which are grounds for impeachment under the Constitution. She repeatedly denied the allegations and asked for the complaint to be junked.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos contributed to this report.