Ateneo to SC: Junk Sereno ouster plea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 14) - The Ateneo de Manila University urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the quo warranto or the petition to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

University President Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin announced this in a memo to the Ateneo community Saturday.

"At this point, the legal and proper process is impeachment and not quo warranto. We thus categorically call on the Supreme Court to dismiss the quo warranto petition filed against the Chief Justice," he said.

Villarin echoed Sereno, an economics graduate in Ateneo, in pointing out the bias of several justices in the quo warranto proceedings that began April 10.

"The University expresses its dismay and disappointment at how vicious and malicious the search for accountability has become," he added.

Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, and Teresita de Castro testified against Sereno before the impeachment hearings by the House Committee on Justice.

They all refused to inhibit from the hearing of the petition filed by the Solicitor General Jose Calida. The country's top government lawyer  wants to invalidate Sereno's appointment, citing her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth by not submitting some of her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

"It should alarm us when several justices who will decide on whether the Chief Justice has sufficiently complied with the requirement are among those who have accused her of wrongdoing in that regard, during hearings conducted by Congress, thus effectively prejudging the matter," he added.

Alleged violations in Sereno's SALNs also form part of the articles of impeachment against her.

"Let us allow the impeachment to unfold, to guarantee the impeachable officer due process of fundamental law," Villarin said. "As the nation's highest court, the Supreme Court's main focus should always be to keep the freedoms of each person inviolable and sacred."

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has said the impeachment will be tackled and voted by the plenary when Congress resumes session on May 15.

If at least one-third of the members of the House of Representatives vote to impeach Sereno, the complaint would go to trial at the Senate.

The Senate, convening as an impeachment court, will need a two-thirds vote or 16 of 23 senators to convict the Chief Justice.