It's game over for Sereno; Tijam draft ponencia wants her out

Thursday April 12, 2018 ()

After oral arguments, justices of the Supreme Court are set to deliver the final verdict on their boss, embattled Chief Justice on leave Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Court sources told The Manila Times Associate Justice Noel Tijam has circulated his 60-page draft decision calling for the ouster of Sereno through quo warranto.

Lourdes Sereno
(Maria Lourdes Sereno)

The Tijam draft ponencia was not at all influenced by President Rodrigo Duterte's fiery remarks on Monday pushing for the ouster of Sereno through impeachment.

The draft was distributed to the justices after the Holy Week break, April 2, court sources said.

It declares the appointment of Sereno null and void as she was not eligible for the position due to question of integrity, for her failure to submit her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) as required by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which screens judiciary nominees.

It will order Sereno to immediately vacate her post and mandate the JBC to open the nomination for the position of chief justice, the sources said.

The ruling, once approved by a majority, will be "immediately executory" pending motion for reconsideration.

Memoranda first

The case will be up for voting after the submission of memoranda from the Office of the Solicitor General, which filed the quo warranto petition seeking to disqualify Sereno, and the chief justice's lawyers.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio gave both parties 10 days or until April 20 to submit their memoranda.

Thereafter, the justices can submit separate opinions, either concurring or dissenting, on the Tijam draft.

Court sources said the justices would attempt to decide the case on April 24. If that doesn't happen, voting may happen in June, before the articles of impeachment are transmitted by the House of Representatives to the Senate Impeachment Court.

This is because the justices will be on recess in May, which is decision-writing month.

"I think June will be the best time to rule on the quo warranto of CJ (Chief Justice) Sereno. The last week of April is too tight and we don't want to be accused that the justices railroaded the case. April 20 shall be the submission of the memoranda then after four days there will be a decision," a court source said.

A dissenter, under Supreme Court rules, is given a month to write his or her dissenting opinion.

"Game over"

After Duterte's speech chastising Sereno for accusing him of being behind the quo warranto case, and the holding of oral arguments, a magistrate told The Manila Times it was "game over" for Sereno.

"It's game over. She angered the President, who doesn't meddle with the justices," another court source said. "Todas siya ngayon (She's a goner)," the third source told The Times.

The first source said the speech of Duterte and the emotional oral arguments of Sereno were the "game changers" in the case.

"The speech of Duterte and the ‘failed' oral arguments of Sereno are the game changers. A number of justices who were for her could change their votes," the first source claimed.

Sources:

  • Draft court ruling wants Sereno out, Jomar Canlas, Aapril 12, 2018, The Manila Times

(This article is adapted from the source listed above. We are unable to grant permission for any kind of reproduction other than social media shares.)


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