SC Justice: Sereno's move to alter draft TRO 'grossly unprocedural'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 29) — Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro on Wednesday claimed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno violated procedure when she tampered with a temporary restraining order (TRO).

On the 4th day of the impeachment hearings conducted by the House Justice Committee, De Castro said Sereno changed her recommendation on the issuance of a TRO on party-list proclamations during the 2013 elections.

"It was grossly unprocedural because she included third parties who are not involved in the case since there was a blanket TRO against the Comelec to stop it from proclaiming party-list organizations," De Castro said.

Impeachment complainant Larry Gadon said falsification of court resolutions is a culpable violation of the Constitution.

De Castro, the Supreme Court member-in-charge of the case, recommended a TRO only on the disqualification of the Coalition of Association of Senior Citizens Party-list, but Sereno issued a blanket order stopping the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from proclaiming 11 other party-list groups.

READ: Chief Justice denies issuing order without en banc approval

De Castro, however, said Sereno had no power on the case since it was not raffled to her.

"I was taken aback because I am being attributed to have recommended that because the TRO says upon recommendation of the member-in-charge," De Castro said.

The associate justice said she wrote Sereno a letter asking for an explanation, but did not receive any response.

Sereno's camp, in a statement on Wednesday, said as the petition was filed during recess, the chief justice was "expressly empowered to act" on urgent cases even without the recommendation of the member-in-charge.

"Since Justice De Castro was merely 'recommending' a course of action to the Chief Justice, and further considering that the proposed 'temporary restraining order' was merely a 'draft,' the Chief Justice can wholly accept, modify or even reject Justice De Castro's recommendation," the statement read.

"The fact that she included other parties is procedurally wrong, procedurally infirm. I raised Comelec to declare winning parties," she said.

De Castro's statements confirmed Gadon's allegation in his impeachment complaint, where he said Sereno "tampered with and altered the contents of the draft temporary restraining order sent by Justice De Castro."

The SC later issued a status quo ante order, which effectively applied De Castro's original recommendation and reflected the en banc decision.

READ: Reporter denies SC justice as source in story vs. Sereno