Sereno: Failure to submit SALNs doesn't negate my integrity

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Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 21) Embattled Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday slammed claims that failure to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) negates a public official's "integrity."

In her 147-page memorandum submitted to the Supreme Court Friday, Sereno asserted the Judicial Bar and Council (JBC) is the only body who could determine her integrity as a public official.

"The issue of whether the Chief Justice was a person of 'proven integrity' is a political question which only the JBC could answer," she said.

Sereno said her inclusion on the shortlist of nominees in 2012 was the JBC's answer.

Under the Constitution, among the requirements for a Supreme Court appointee is one "must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence."

Sereno also said requiring the submission of all SALNs as an "absolute requirement" would be tantamount to creating new qualifications for the Chief Justice.

Sereno was able to submit three SALNs, covering 2009, 2010, and 2011. JBC Executive Director Annaliza Ty-Capacite earlier said Sereno's submission of the three SALNs is already considered "substantial compliance," making her eligible for Chief Justice.

"It would be tantamount to amending the Constitution, which the JBC is powerless to do," he said.

The chief magistrate also said the filing of SALNs is not even considered to be evidence to prove a public official's integrity.

"SALNs are not among the documents which the JBC considers 'evidence of integrity' under Section 1, Rule 4 of the JBC Rules. In fact, the filing of the SALN is not even mentioned in any of the six Sections on 'Integrity,'" Sereno explained.

She explained that the quo warranto petition by Solicitor General Jose Calida, on the basis of questioning her "proven integrity" due to failure to file SALNs, is four and a half years late.

Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, the quo warranto petition a legal proceeding where an individual's right to hold office is challenged must be brought to court within one year before the cause of action or an ouster arises.

Calida, however, said Sereno was continuously making "excuses" for failing to file her SALNs.

READ: Calida slams Sereno's 'excuses,' insists on her ouster

The high court is set to decide on the petition on May 17, sources say.