Supreme Court to decide on Sereno ouster petition by May

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 19) — The Supreme Court will decide the fate of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before the end of May, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said Thursday.

Sources told CNN Philippines the justices will vote on May 17. A majority vote - or eight out of 14 if all justices are present — would grant the quo warranto petition to oust Sereno.

The high court held oral arguments on the quo warranto petition seeking Sereno's ouster last April 10.

The quo warranto, a legal proceeding where an individual's right to hold office is challenged, was filed by the government's top lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida.

He wanted the Supreme Court to unseat Sereno over her alleged failure to file Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) for ten years, before she applied for the Chief Justice post in 2012.

During the ouster proceedings, Sereno argued her case before her colleagues and figured in multiple heated exchanges with one of her harshest critics, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro.

Sereno earlier sought the inhibition of de Castro and four other justices – Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, and Noel Tijam – from the case, saying they all "manifested actual bias" against her.

The five justices denied Sereno's plea. They had all testified against Sereno in the impeachment proceedings of the House Committee on Justice.  The committee had voted to impeach the Chief Justice and is expected to bring the matter for approval to the plenary when session resumes next month.  If the entire House approve Sereno's impeachment, a trial will take place in the Senate.

With the full bench participating in the quo warranto case, it could mean five votes against the Chief Justice.  A majority vote of the justices - or eight out of 14 – would grant the petition to oust Sereno.

The embattled chief justice, who has been on leave at the request of her colleagues, had asked the high court to dismiss the quo warranto petition. She stressed that impeachment is the only way to remove a chief justice from office, asking lawmakers to "give me my day in the Senate impeachment court."

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.