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Sereno seeks inhibition of another SC justice

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
Sereno seeks inhibition of another SC justice
Martires is the sixth magistrate that Sereno wants to be barred from taking part in the quo warranto proceedings.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — After failing to convince five magistrates of the Supreme Court (SC) to inhibit themselves from the quo warranto petition filed against her, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has now asked for the disqualification of Associate Justice Samuel Martires from participating in the proceedings.

Martires is the sixth magistrate that Sereno wants to be barred from taking part in the quo warranto proceedings.

Last month, she asked for the recusal of Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam, but her motions were denied for lack of merit.

The six justices were among those who testified against Sereno in the impeachment proceedings of the House of Representatives’ committee on justice.

Last Friday, Sereno submitted a 13-page pleading seeking the inhibition of Martires for allegedly being biased during the April 10 oral arguments on the quo warranto petition that was filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida. 

“The Chief Justice, with due respect, has reasonable grounds to believe that the Hon. Associate Justice Samuel Martires has manifested actual bias against her which should disqualify him from participating in these proceedings,” Sereno said, citing Canon 3, Section 5(a) of the New Code Of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary.

She added that Martires showed actual bias against her after he insinuated that her pervasive faith in God could be a sign of mental illness.

During the oral arguments, Martires “appears to have made insinuations questioning the Chief Justice’s ‘mental’ or ‘psychological’ fitness on the basis of her belief that God is ‘the source of everything in (her) life,’ even as the Chief Justice’s mental or psychological fitness was not an issue raised at all in the petition,” according to Sereno.

Dictatorship

Sereno yesterday warned of the harmful consequences to the country of the ongoing attacks against her. 

Speaking at an event organized by youth supporters at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, the Chief Justice warned of a possible dictatorship should her colleagues at the SC decide to oust her through quo warranto.

“What will happen if all branches, all employees of the government, can be threatened and could no longer be independent?” Sereno said in Filipino.

“What do you call that situation where there is a threat to the entire nation? That is called dictatorship... If the quo warranto succeeds, that will happen. No one will be safe,” she added. 

Sereno noted that the quo warranto petition, which seeks to void her appointment as the country’s top magistrate, would set a precedent that could be used for political means by those in power. 

She maintained that officials such as the chief justice can only be removed through impeachment, reiterating her challenge for her critics to proceed with the impeachment trial at the Senate and let her respond to the allegations.

With the petition against her gaining ground, Sereno said the quo warranto may now be abused by the solicitor general to influence even those that should have been independent from the executive branch.

In her speech, Sereno denouced what she dubbed as a conspiracy to remove her from office. 

She lashed out at complainant Larry Gadon and lawmakers Gwendolyn Garcia, Reynaldo Umali and Vicente Veloso who took part in the committee hearings at the House which voted to proceed with the impeachment case against her. 

“You know who they are. Do not forget their sins to the nation,” Sereno said, as she also criticized SC justices who refused to inhibit from the quo warranto petition despite their earlier statements against her. 

The Chief Justice also criticized bullies, whom she described as insecure people who do not know where to put themselves in their lives. 

“They always have to put themselves above others because they don’t know their worth,” Sereno said. 

“You talk to people, not threaten them. You tell them the truth, not lie to them,” she added. 

Sereno expressed gratitude to her supporters, saying she believes that the Filipino people would not just allow what is wrong to succeed.  – With Janvic Mateo

MARIA LOURDES SERENO

QUO WARRANTO

SAMUEL MARTIRES

SUPREME COURT

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