Tuesday 11 December, 2018
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De Castro, Jardeleza to Sereno: Dami mong excuses!

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Associate Justices Teresita de Castro and Francis Jardeleza chastised Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno for coming up with lots of excuses to justify her failure to submit her statement of assets liabilities and net worth (SALN) during oral arguments in the quo warranto case filed against the head magistrate.

De Casto accused Sereno of failing to religiously comply with Section 7 or Republic Act No. 3019 which requires every public officer, within 30 days after assuming office, and within the month of January of every other year thereafter.

“You’re making a lot of excuses for not filing your SALN…You are blaming everyone, but the point is have you religiously filed your SALN?,” De Castro told the Chief Justice.

De Castro was referring to the failure of Sereno to provide the JBC copies of her SALNs which she was supposed to file while she was still working at UP as well as her confusing SALNs that she submitted to the JBC in 2010.

She noted that Sereno submitted to the JBC on July 27, 2010 her SALN for 2006 despite that the requirement was the submission of her latest SALN.

But Sereno rebutted that the only available form online was 2006 when the JBC was asking for her submission of her SALNs immediatey.

Sereno said she had a written 2010 on the form which should be the one considered.

For his part, Jardeleza cited Sereno for making too many excuses to justify her failure to present her missing SALNs.

“It seems to me you are layering a lot of reasons about why you did not file. You are not presenting us evidence to the contrary, your assertion is that you filed,” Jardeleza said.

Sereno, however, insisted that she could no longer find copies of her SALN, insisting that she consistently filed such documents as required by law.

Associate Justice Noel Tijam, meanwhile, pointed out that Sereno was making a lot of excuses in not presenting copies of her SALN.

“You filed but couldn’t find them, you were not reminded, or the others also did not also file…The filing of a SALN is a constitutional and statutory requirement,” Tijam said.

Sereno said the fact the JBC shortlisted her proved that its members, including then JBC ex-officio chair Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, found her to have “substantially complied” with all the requirements, including the submission of SALNs.

JBC records showed that Sereno submitted three SALNs, which she filed annually since she was appointed SC Associate Justice in 2010. The SALNs covered the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. Sereno was in private practice prior to her appointment to the high court.

“Everything was done in good faith. If they (JBC members) found that my three SALNs were not sufficient, they could have struck me out of the shortlist,” Sereno said during the oral arguments while responding to questions by De Castro.

“I never knew what was happening inside the JBC. If they considered that sufficient, then that’s it. How could I second guess?” Sereno added.

She noted that the JBC had 11 chances to exclude her from the shortlist on the ground of her incomplete submission of SALNs, but it never did.

Sereno said that she filed her SALNs with UP but could not retrieve it within three days.

She also submitted a copy of the clearance dated Sept. 19, 2018 issued by the UP, clearing her of “all academic/administrative responsibilities, money and property accountabilities and from administrative charges as of 01 June 2006,”which meant that her SALNs were properly filed and accomplished.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio ended the oral arguments by directing both parties to submit their respective memoranda and pertinent documents on or before April 20, 2018. (PNA)

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