Sereno’s camp will use the recovered SALNs to bolster her defense in the impending impeachment trial at the Senate.
Boy Santos
Sereno to present ‘missing’ SALNs
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - March 21, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has recovered some of her supposedly missing statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) – an issue that is being used by her critics as basis for her impeachment.

Sereno’s camp will use the recovered SALNs to bolster her defense in the impending impeachment trial at the Senate.

These SALNs will be submitted to the Senate, sitting as the impeachment tribunal, and not to the Supreme Court (SC) where a petition was filed by the Office of the Solicitor General seeking her ouster.

Lawyer Romeo Igot has petitioned the SC to compel Sereno to submit the missing SALNs.

Sereno manifested this plan to the high court in her comment to the quo warranto plea filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida over her invalid appointment in 2012 for failing to meet the 10-year SALN requirement for the SC post.

“The Chief Justice retrieved her missing SALNs and will present them before the Senate without prejudice to her legal defenses in light of the fact that her alleged failure to file SALNs before she joined the SC is not within the scope of the impeachment complaint or the grounds for impeachment provided in the Constitution,” read the chief magistrate’s 77-page answer. 

“With due respect, the Chief Justice declined to produce these SALNs before this Honorable Court because of her objections on the jurisdictional grounds to the petition and the proceedings being taken hereunder,” it added.

The SC yesterday ordered Calida to answer Sereno’s defense and submit a reply within five days from notice. 

The justices will decide whether there is a need to hear the case in oral arguments.     

The non-filing of SALNs by Sereno during her stint as professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law was among the grounds in the articles of impeachment approved by the House committee on justice.

It was also the basis for the quo warranto petition filed by Calida, who accused her of failure to meet the integrity requirement in the Constitution because of the non-submission of her SALNs.

During the impeachment hearing at the House of Representatives, it was discovered that Sereno only submitted three SALNs covering 2009, 2010 and 2011 instead of 10 as required by the rules of the Judicial and Bar Council.

It was also discovered that she submitted her SALN to UP only in 2002. Sereno allegedly did not submit her SALNs in 2001 and 2003 to 2009 when she taught in the premier law school.

The filing of SALNs is required under Article XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

But Sereno argued that she was not required to submit SALNs in those years as she was on leave during the period of July to October 1998, June 2000 to May 2001, June 2001 to May 2002, November 2003 to May 2004, June 2004 to October 2004, February 2005 to October 2005 and November 2005 and May 2006.

 “Since the record shows that the Chief Justice was on leave without pay, she was not required to file any SALN for these years,” the Chief Justice pointed out.

Sereno, who is on leave while facing impeachment proceedings before Congress, said the submission of SALNs was not among the documents which the JBC considers “evidence of integrity” under Section 1, Rule 4 of the JBC Rules. 

“In fact, the filing of the SALN is not even mentioned in any of the six sections on integrity. In sum, based on the JBC rules, the non-filing of one’s SALN does not negate one’s integrity. Therefore, even assuming that it was shown that the Chief Justice had not filed her SALNs as a UP professor, said failure would not necessarily have made her ineligible for the position of Chief Justice,” she stressed.

Sereno also alleged that the solicitor general failed to prove the theory that she was not qualified to become Chief Justice for lack of integrity, arguing that the petition could not prove such allegation by citing the SALN issue alone.

“The failure to file one’s SALN, or to submit the same to the JBC, has no bearing on the relationship to the Chief Justice’s integrity, there being no allegation, let alone evidence, that she had committed corruption by acquiring unexplained wealth,” she explained.

Sereno has asked the SC to dismiss the quo warranto petition filed by Calida.

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