Sereno not resigning: ‘Ano sila, sinusuwerte?’

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday, February 28,  said that while she agreed to go on indefinite leave, it does not mean that she is quitting her post.

“I have not resigned and I will not resign. This indefinite leave is not a resignation. I will devote my time to the preparation of my Senate defense and work on the cases in my docket,” the Chief Justice said in a statement read by lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, one of her spokespersons, in a press conference in Quezon City.

ANO SILA SINUSWERTE?

On Friday, March 2, in Baguio City, speaking before students of the University of Baguio College of Law and lawyers from the Cordillera about judicial independence, Chief Justice Sereno reiterated that she is not resigning.

The Chief Justice brought the house down during the question-and-answer portion when she referred to those who were calling for her resignation: “Ano sila, sinusuwerte?” 

Sereno issued the February 28 statement after the 13 Associate Justices of the Supreme Court (SC) issued a statement to clear the confusion created by the Chief Justice’s spokespersons, who earlier said the latter is only taking a wellness leave and not an indefinite leave.

“It is unfortunate that my plan of making use of an already approved wellness leave in relation to an indefinite leave was inaccurately conveyed for which I apologized,” the statement further reads.

The top magistrate clarified that her indefinite leave is bound by the appropriate administrative rules of the court.

“I had to qualify my leave according to the provisions of Rule 7, Section 6(c) of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court ‘(c) Members who are on wellness leave or who are on vacation or sick leave, for at least 15 continuous calendar days shall be exempt from raffle. xxx’ and the Resolution dated January 23, 2018 (A.M. No. 07-11-02-SC) on the matter of my approved wellness leave,” she said.

Sereno had initially scheduled her annual wellness leave, as approved by the en banc, from March 12 to 23, but opted to advance it to March 1 to 15 to give her sufficient time to prepare for her legal defense in the looming impeachment trial.

In the same press conference, Lacanilao apologized on behalf of the Chief Justice’s spokespersons to the SC and the House Committee on Justice for the confusion created by his previous announcement.

“We were working on information available to us at the time we were engaged and asked questions by the press. The developments and discussions on what transpired during the en banc on Tuesday were not privy to us,” Lacanilao explained.

“Therefore, there was no malice on anyone of us to confuse, mislead or obfuscate what were fast developing events in the Supreme Court,” he added.

Sereno said she would use her leave of absence to prepare her legal defense in her impeachment case, which is expected to reach the Senate anytime soon.

Sereno is facing impeachment trial for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.

The complaint was filed by lawyer Larry Gadon who claimed that Sereno did not declare in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) the “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” of USD745,000 or PHP37 million which she received from the Philippine government.

The impeachment complainant said the issue of SALN declaration is the strongest case presented against Sereno.

The complaint also alleged that Sereno committed corruption when she, among other things, used public funds to finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle by ordering the purchase of a brand-new luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 model as her personal vehicle, amounting to more than PHP5 million; and stay in opulent hotels when attending conferences in the country and abroad. (PNA)

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ANO SILA SINUSWERTE?

On Friday, March 2, in Baguio City, speaking before students of the University of Baguio College of Law and lawyers from the Cordillera about judicial independence, Chief Justice Sereno reiterated that she is not resigning.

The Chief Justice brought the house down during the question-and-answer portion when she referred to those who were calling for her resignation: “Ano sila, sinusuwerte?” 

“Allow me to make a call for everyone to respect the impeachment process by allowing it to take the only allowable force which is by the Constitution,” Sereno said.

“The House committee on justice finished its process. What happens next is critically important to our democracy. The only constitutional way allowed for handling the impeachment proceedings in the House is to vote on the question of probable cause in a timely manner and not drag it further, nor couple it with calls for extraconstitutional help, like facilitating the ouster of the Chief Justice or calling on the Supreme Court to do the job of the Senate,” she added.

“The House has to find some probable cause or not or else elevate it to the Senate. The proponents of the impeachment have bared their uncertainties and have been contradicting themselves, saying they have solid evidence while stridently calling for my resignation,” she said.

“If they were so sure of their evidence even to the point of perjuring baseless accusations, if they can prove that I have committed the hardest of sins against the people, why not bring it to the Senate?” she said, to the applause of her audience at the UB Gymnasium.

“Instead we have this additional injurious spectacle, including having members of the court and judicial system threatened with administrative and judicial cases. I ask only one thing: give me one day in the Senate impeachment court,” she said.

Also Read:
Why SC justices forced Sereno to go on leave
Sereno’s indefinite leave a ‘consensus’ of SC en banc

But Sereno said she could only be removed from office through an impeachment process and not by an “internal action,” seemingly alluding to an en banc consensus of asking her to go on an indefinite leave. Her spokespersons have called this move extra-constitutional.

“I will not resign. No I will not. I will give an account of my actions as the Chief Justice to the people. I owe the people to tell my story. I am hopeful that after the impeachment trial, days of renewal for the Supreme Court can still be forged, united by the common desire to serve the people and protect the constitutional rights especially in these troubled times,” Sereno said.

“I remain steadfast in fighting for judicial independence. I have faith that in the end what some unpatriotic men and women have intended for evil in the form of my impeachment, God will turn into good,” she continued. – Rappler.com

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