Sereno back in office as Chief Justice, but will inhibit from quo warranto proceedings

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is shown here back at work in her office at the Supreme Court. (Contributed photo. Courtesy Office of the Chief Justice)


(Eagle News) – Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said she was within her rights to return to the high court as the chief magistrate, but will inhibit from the proceedings on quo warranto filed against her “out of delicadeza,” according to a statement issued by her camp.

Sereno’s spokesperson for the impeachment hearings, Atty. Carlo Cruz said that Sereno had already finished preparations for the expected impeachment trial at the Senate and has returned to work on Wednesday morning, May 9, 2018.

“Now that the purpose of her leave of absence has been served, the Chief Justice will resume performing her constitutional mandate and discharging her responsibilities as head of the Judiciary,” Cruz said reading a statement.

“Her return to her office is in full consonance with our Constitution,” he said.

Cruz stressed that “no less than the eminent constitutionalist former SC Justice Vincente Mendoza has stated that the Chief Justice is legally within her rights to end her leace and to return to the office.”

“Preventing her from resuming her post ‘would bring about a constitutional crisis and upset the balance of power in government,” Sereno’s chief lawyer said, citing Justice Mendoza’s opinion.

Cruz said that Sereno will be inhibiting from the deliberations regarding the quo warranto proceedings against her in the high court, but emphasized that the six other SC justices whom she had earlier asked to inhibit should also do so.

-Sereno asks 6 justices to inhibit from quo warranto case-

The SC justices whom Sereno had asked to inhibit were Justices Samuel Martires, Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam.

Her latest petition for inhibition concerned Justice Martires whom she claimed showed actual bias against her after he allegedly made insinuations on her mental fitness during the quo warranto case’s oral arguments.

“Let it be emphasized that the Chief Justice and six Associate Justices are required to inhibit from participating in the deliberations on the quo warranto petition,” the statement from Sereno’s camp said.

“She will inhibit herself from the deliberations of the magistrates in accordance with the Code for the Judicial conduct and out of delicadeza. She will observe the rule on inhibition,” Cruz said reading the statement.

Atty. Jojo Lacanilao, one of Sereno’s spokespersons, said that the chief justice was very happy and in high spirits when she returned to the Supreme Court to work.

He said that Sereno called up Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio Wednesday morning, May 9, informing him that she will return to work in the high court.

Lacanilao insisted Sereno was not seeking permission from Carpio.

“Hindi po yun pagpapaalam. She is still the chief justice,” Lacanilao said.

“She spoke with him, but not to seek his permission kasi yung leave niya it’s up to her kung babalik siya,” he said.

Lacanilao said that Sereno can decide upon herself when to end her indefinite leave.

“Masaya po siya. She’s just happy to be back to do what she’s supposed to do,” he said.

(with a report from Moira Encina, Eagle News Service)