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By Xave Gregorio

Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Teresita de Castro revealed she was “taken aback” after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno rejected her recommendations on the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) in the case of the Senior Citizen’s Party-list.

De Castro, who was the SC member in charge for the case, recommended issuing a TRO against the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for it to temporarily lift the suspension on the Senior Citizen’s Party-list.

“I prepared a draft TRO where I explicitly recommended the issuance of a TRO against the Comelec to refrain it from implementing the assailed resolution insofar as the Senior Citizen’s Party is concerned,” De Castro said.

However, Sereno instead drafted a TRO which instructed the Comelec to halt the proclamation of all unproclaimed party-lists, who are not parties to the case.

“The tenor of the TRO is the Comelec is estopped from proclaiming all remaining party-list organizations,” De Castro said. “I was taken aback because I am being attributed to recommending that.”

De Castro said she did not like that she was referenced as the one who recommended issuing such a TRO against the Comelec.

The magistrate said she confronted Sereno, who reportedly replied that she issued the TRO “because there are other cases pending in court.”

She also slammed the Sereno TRO as “procedurally infirm” as it allegedly infringed on the rights of party-lists and their constituents.

“I mentioned that will violate the right of other party-lists to due process of law and violate the right of their constituencies. They will be deprived the right of representation in Congress,” De Castro said.

The magistrate said Sereno risked violating the right of constitutional right of Comelec and its right to enforce electoral laws.

She also said that the SC rules “does not mention that the Chief Justice can disregard the recommendations of the member in charge.”

Sereno, on her part, said that as Chief Justice, she had the right to release TROs when the High Court is on recess.

The dubious TRO is among the 27 allegations against Sereno in the impeachment complaint before the House Committee on Justice.

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