Calida slams Sereno’s 'excuses,' insists on her ouster

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20) — The Solicitor General on Friday dismissed as “excuses” the arguments of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in defense of her supposed failure to file all her statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) as required by law.

In an 81-page memorandum submitted to the Supreme Court Friday, Solicitor General Jose Calida reiterated his call for Sereno's ouster because of this violation.

The Supreme Court was set to decide on the quo warranto case in May. The quo warranto, a legal proceeding where an individual's right to hold office is challenged, was filed by Calida. He wanted the Supreme Court to unseat Sereno for repeatedly failing to file her SALN before she applied for the Chief Justice post in 2012.

“Respondent kept making excuses, even to the point of attributing the fault to everybody else,” Calida said.

He referred to Sereno’s responses to Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro during the April 10 oral arguments on the case, including that it was impossible for the Chief Justice  to retrieve her SALNs in time for the deadline for submission of applications for the position in 2012.

“Because why? What did the College of Law say? Ay Ma'am, your SALNs are not here in your 201 file. Why don't you write UP-HRDO (University of the Philippines-Human Resources Development Office)? And of course, by the time I will write HRDO, the deadline has passed,” Sereno said, as quoted in Calida’s memorandum.

Sereno noted that the Judicial and Bar Council, which screens applications for court positions, had declared her to have "substantially complied" with the SALN requirement.

She also said she would find her missing SALNs and present them before the Senate impeachment court, if her case is brought to trial there. SALN issues also topped the articles of impeachment in the report of the justice committee in the House of Representatives when it impeached Sereno.

The report will be brought to the Senate by a vote of 1/3 of the members of the House set for May.

Calida said it was “futile” for Sereno to “merely allege that she filed her SALNS” for as long as she does not present any of them.

Calida: Sereno failed to show missing SALNs

The government's top lawyer also tried to debunk Sereno’s use of the Doblada Doctrine in insisting that she had filed all her SALNs.

RELATED: Law expert: SC can reverse Sereno's defense  

Calida noted that in the case of Court Sheriff Norberto Doblada, the Pasig regional trial court in 2001 “found no sufficient evidence to prove that Doblada failed to file his SALNs for several years since he was able to present his 2000 SALN.”

“Since the 2000 SALN was one of those that the (Office of the Court Administrator) did not have a copy of, it could not readily be concluded that Doblada failed to file his SALNs for those years,” Calida said.

Sereno, on the other hand. failed to disprove the certifications issued by the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Office of the Ombudsman showing that she submitted only nine SALNs, Calida said. Sereno taught in UP from 1986-2006.

“UP, in its reply to the OSG’s letter request for copies of Respondent’s SALNs, submitted only SALNs for the years 1985, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2002,” Calida’s memorandum read.

Sereno warns of dangers of quo warranto

Calida added that if low-ranking court employees are penalized for violations in their SALNs, the Chief  Justice  must likewise be held accountable.

Sereno, in an interview with reporters on Friday, said the quo warranto endangered the security of tenure of all government employees in the country, including the police.

“Yung milyu-milyon na kawani ng gobyerno po, pati ang pulis... kahit po two years ay magreretire na siya sa mandatory age of retirement ay meron pala siyang exam na hindi nakuha ng tama, quo warranto po yun,” Sereno said. “In other words, You will throw the security of tenure of millions of government employees and you will destroy the legal profession.”