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Gawin na lahat! Alvarez wants SolGen to file case at SC to unseat Sereno

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By Xave Gregorio

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) should file a case with the Supreme Court (SC) to unseat Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whose appointment, he said, is invalid due to her incomplete submission of her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) and her supposed “psychological problems.”

“Kasi maganda po kung meroon magreklamo, mag-question [sa SC,]” Alvarez said Wednesday in a press conference.

“Para sa akin dapat ang SolGen (Solicitor General) ang mag-file,” he said.

Alvarez said it is only the SC which has the power to decide whether or not Sereno’s appointment is invalid from the start, as contended by some lawmakers and even by SC Justices Diosdado Peralta and Teresita De Castro who testified against the Chief Justice at the impeachment hearings.

However, when asked if there is a constitutional or legal basis for this, Alvarez said, “Wala sa Constitution ‘yun, pero accepted practice ‘yan sa legal practice, diba? Na ‘yung validity nung appointment, kontrata, kung ano man ‘yun, talagang ang may jurisdiction doon ay ‘yung judiciary.”

He also clarified that he is not directing the OSG to file a quo warranto proceedings with the High Court, and is merely offering his opinion as a lawyer, which may or may not be correct.

Lawmakers discovered during the impeachment hearings that Sereno only submitted three of her SALNs to the Judicial and Bar Council, which required in 2012 aspirants for the top post in the judiciary to submit 10 years’ worth of their SALNs.

At the last impeachment hearing on Tuesday, psychologist Dr. Geraldine Tria said she would not recommend Sereno to become Chief Justice, as she exhibited five of nine symptoms of “mental disturbance,” namely, a sense of entitlement, being interpersonally exploitative, lacking empathy, and having a grandiose sense of self importance.

Tria, whose website identifies her as a “certified psychologist specializing in marriage annulment and family adoption cases,” based her findings on Sereno solely from allegations hurled at her during the course of the marathon proceedings on the impeachment complaint, and has not personally examined the Chief Justice.

Alvarez said there is no conflict of interest if members of the SC would decide on the fate of Sereno as Chief Justice when a case is filed against her, even if many of them have expressed in testimonies delivered during impeachment hearings their distaste for the leader of the judiciary.

“Alam niyo, masagwa o hindi, hindi ‘yun ‘yung issue. Ang issue dito, valid ba o hindi ‘yung appointment. ‘Yun ‘yung issue. Hindi kung delicadeza, hindi ho delicadeza ang isyu dito. Ang isyu dito, kung ‘yung bang requirements doon sa appointment na-comply,” Alvarez said.

Last week suspended abogado Eligio Mallari wrote to Solicitor General Jose Calida asking him to file quo warranto proceedings against Sereno for her to be unseated, as she only submitted to the Judicial and Bar Council SALNs from three years, when she was required to submit 10.

But Sereno’s spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao said there is no constitutional basis for the Chief Justice to booted out from the SC through a vote by members of the court.

“Hindi po sya pwedeng pagbotohan at tanggalin. ‘Yan po ay wala sa Konstitusyon. Alam naman po ‘yan ng mga abogado, lalo na po ang mga justices,” Lacanilao said.

Another of Sereno’s spokespersons, abogado Josa Deinla, also said there is nothing in the law or in the Constitution which allows magistrates to pressure a fellow colleague to take an indefinite leave of absence, as previously reported in news stories.

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