SolGen urged to also seek ouster of Justice De Castro over SALN issues

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20) —  A private citizen asked the government's top lawyer to file a quo warranto petition against Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro over discrepancies in her statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN), just like he did with Supreme Court Chief Justice over the same issue.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) received the four-page letter on Friday from a certain Jocelyn Maria Acosta, who said De Castro should be unseated on the same grounds used to seek the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Acosta recalled how suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari earlier asked Solicitor General Jose Calida to look into the validity of Sereno’s appointment in light of her alleged repeated failure to file her SALNs, before applying for the Chief Justice post in 2012.

This led to the filing of a quo warranto petition, a legal proceeding where an individual's right to hold office is challenged, against Sereno.

Following the logic of Calida, Mallari, and de Castro herself, the Associate Justice “also employed deception in claiming that she complied with the SALN requirement, thereby lacking integrity and is not qualified to sit as Justice of the Supreme Court,” Acosta charged.

She noted how De Castro “appears to have perjured herself” in testifying against Sereno during the impeachment hearings of the House Committee on Justice.

“She openly accused the Chief Justice for not complying with the [Judicial and Bar Council’s] SALN requirement, all the while knowing that the SALN rule was waived by the JBC, from which Justice de Castro herself benefited,” Acosta went on.

De Castro had told lawmakers Sereno should have been disqualified from vying for the chief justice post after failing to comply with the SALN requirement.

De Castro, like Sereno, were deemed by the JBC to have "substantially complied" with the SALN requirement, Sereno’s camp had earlier pointed out.

The JBC has said it had on record 15 of De Castro's SALNs, from 1997-2011. But Acosta and Sereno’s camp argued that there should have been 39 SALNs if de Castro had indeed filed all her SALNs since she first worked for the government in 1973.

“I anticipate that you would act with the same zeal as you did when you received the letter of Atty. Mallari in February 2018,” Acosta told Calida.

De Castro is one of Sereno’s harshest critics. The Chief Justice had asked that de Castro and four other associate justices inhibit themselves from participating in the quo warranto case, saying they had all  "manifested actual bias" against her. But all five denied Sereno’s plea.

During oral arguements on the case  last April 10, Sereno argued her case before her colleagues and figured in multiple heated exchanges with de Castro.

The Supreme Court is set to vote on the quo warranto petition against Sereno on May 17, sources told CNN Philippines.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.