While Sereno has not tacitly closed the door on a possible Senate run, she has said that her future plan is “to serve the Filipino public.”
Edd Gumban
With her ouster now final, what’s next for Sereno?
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) - June 14, 2018 - 12:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — When President Benigno Aquino III appointed Maria Lourdes Sereno as the chief justice of the Philippines on Aug. 25, 2012, the young associate justice was expected to lead the Judiciary for 18 years.

Sereno’s stint—mandatory retirement would have come in 2030—was cut short when Solicitor General Jose Calida challenged the validity of her appointment as chief justice.

The government’s chief legal counsel argued that Sereno was a “de facto” chief justice, as she supposedly failed the “integrity test” when she did not submit her wealth declaration documents to the Judicial and Bar Council in 2012. The JBC deemed her partial submission as being in substantial compliance with the requirement.

It only took two months for the SC to rule—and grant—Calida’s petition. In an unprecedented ruling, eight justices voted on May 11 to nullify Sereno’s appointment.

“Respondent Maria Lourdes Sereno is ousted and excluded therefrom. The position of the chief justice of the Supreme Court is declared vacant,” read the historic ruling penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam.

Sereno appealed her case but the SC, on June 19, upheld the decision.

What will happen to Sereno now?

Senate run?

An earlier report on The STAR after the oral arguments on the case in Baguio City said that Sereno was mulling a run for Congress. Her camp swiftly denied this.

In succeeding interviews, Sereno's denial was less vehement. On June 6, Josalee Deinla, one of her spokespersons, said that running for public office is an “option” for the ousted chief justice.

Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV has not kept secret that he would want Sereno as one of the members of the “Resistance Coalition,” the opposition Senate slate for the 2019 elections.

The coalition is composed of members from the Liberal Party, Akbayan and Magdalo party-lists, and Tindig Pilipinas.

On June 12, Sereno was invited as one of the speakers of one of the biggest gatherings of the de facto opposition, fanning rumors that she might be considering joining the race for the Senate next year. Sereno said, however, that she was only "listening" to issues of injustices brought to her.

In an interview with BBC’s “HARDTALK” aired on June 13, Sereno stressed that she does not identify with the political opposition.

“What I understand is that, right now, my present role is that there is a voice that must be heard.”

She also stressed that she is not someone who “plots and plans” things, and has never sought political office.

While Sereno has not tacitly said that she has closed the door on a possible Senate run, she has remained consistent when asked on future plans: To serve the Filipino public.

Sanctions?

Sereno has lost the top seat in the Philippine judiciary and she might also be facing sanctions from her former colleagues.

The SC en banc, on May 11, directed Sereno to comply with a show-cause order on her alleged violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Code of Judicial Conduct for transgressing the sub judice rule—a prohibition on public discussion of an ongoing case.

She was also ordered to explain why she should not be sanctioned for “casting aspersions and ill motives to the Members of the Supreme Court.”

The court’s punishment may vary depending on the alleged offense.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Abdiel Dan Fajardo earlier told Philstar.com that, “normally, offensive language is sanctioned only with [a] reprimand, fine or light suspension.”

READ: Sereno may face disbarment for public remarks against SC

It has yet to be seen what sanction the court would impose on Sereno for her alleged transgressions, but part of the ruling read that she “may be held liable for disbarment for violating the Canons of Professional Responsibility for violating the sub judice rule by repeatedly discussing the merits of the quo warranto petition.”

Sereno’s claims that her colleagues, whom she claims showed bias against her, also made “wrongful actuations” that exemplify “a poor regard for the judicial system and may conduct unbecoming of a Justice and a lawyer.”

The high court stressed that it is not being “unreasonably sensitive” on the matter, but is taking a stand on “aggressive actions taken against the Judiciary as an institution.”

MARIA LOURDES SERENO SUPREME COURT
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