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notes for posterity; the ponencia of the pro and con supreme court justices on the quo warranto against ma. lourdes sereno. 2018.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2018, 07:53:35 PM »

Decision                            2                            G.R. No. 237428

Integrity has, at all times, been stressed to be one of the required qualifications of a judge. It is not a new concept in the vocation of administering and dispensing justice. In the early l 600's, Francis Bacon, a philosopher, statesman, and jurist, in his "Essay L VI: Of Judicature" said - "'[a]bove all things, integrity is the Judge's portion and proper virtue." Neither is integrity a complex concept necessitating esoteric philosophical disquisitions to be understood. Simply, it is a qualification of being honest, truthful, and having steadfast adherence to moral and ethical principles.(1) Integrity connotes being consistent - doing the right thing in accordance with the law and ethical standards every time. Hence, every judicial officer in any society is required to comply, not only with the laws and legislations, but with codes and canons of conduct and ethical standards as well, without derogation. As Thomas Jefferson remarked, "it is of great importance to set a resolution, never not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual, he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart and in time depraves all its good dispositions." Mental dishonesty and moral mischief breed all that integrity is not.

In our jurisdiction, one cannot be qualified to be a member of the Judiciary, lacking such mandatory requirement of "proven integrity". Inevitably, an appointee to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must be the exemplar of honesty, probity and integrity. The purpose of this requirement is self-evident as the Chief Justice heads the Judiciary and adjudicates cases as a member of the Court that "has the last word on what the law is."(2) Together with other Justices, the Chief Justice also disciplines members of the Bar for misconduct. The significance of probity and integrity as a requirement for appointment to the Judiciary is underscored by the fact that such qualifications are not explicitly required of the President, the Vice-President or the Members of Congress under the Constitution. The Constitution, thus, demands in no uncertain terms that the Chief Justice be the embodiment of moral and ethical principles. He or she must be of unquestionable character, possessed of moral authority to demand obedience to the law and to impose a rule of conduct. Indeed, one who exacts compliance with the law and ethical standards should be their foremost adherent.

No one is above the law and the Constitution, not even a Chief Justice who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and obey the laws of the land. The Court in Francisco, Jr. v. The House of Representatives,(3) says

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<http://www.dictionary.com/browse/integrity> (visited on March 19, 2018);
<https://www.thefreedictionary.com/integrity> (visited on March 19, 2018). 2 Conde v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 228 Phil. 145, 151 ( 1986). 3 460 Phil. 830 (2003).

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2018, 08:30:43 PM »

Decision                            3                             G.R. No. 237428

it tritely - "the Chief Justice is not above the law and neither is any other member of this Court."(4) All public officers whether in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial departments are bound to follow the law. If a public officer violates the law, he or she shall suffer punishment, sanctions and adverse consequences. The obligatory force of the law is necessary because once we allow exceptions, concessions, waiver, suspension or nonapplication to those who do not want to follow the law, nobody else will obey the law.

In this unprecedented case for quo warranto against the incumbent Chief Justice, the Republic entreats this Court to declare Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno (respondent) ineligible to hold the highest post in the Judiciary for failing to regularly disclose her assets, liabilities and net worth as a member of the career service prior to her appointment as an Associate Justice, and later as Chief Justice, of the Supreme Court, in violation of the Constitution, the Anti-Graft Law, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The Republic accordingly seeks the nullification of respondent's appointment, asserting that her failure to file the required disclosures and her failure to submit the same to the Judicial and Bar Council show that she is not possessed of "proven integrity" demanded of every aspirant to the Judiciary.

The Case

Invoking the Court's original jurisdiction under Section 5(1 ), Article VIII of the Constitution in relation to the special civil action under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed the present Petition (5) for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of quo warranto to declare as void respondent's appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and to oust and altogether exclude respondent therefrom.

The Antecedents

From November 1986 to June 1, 2006, or spanning a period of 20 years, respondent served as a member of the faculty of the University of the Philippines-College of Law (U.P. or U.P. College of Law), initially as a temporary faculty member (from November 1986 to December 31, 1991) and thereafter, as a permanent faculty member until her resignation therefrom on June 1, 2006.(6) As a regular faculty member, respondent was paid by the month by U.P. (7)

-------
4 Id. at 943.
5 Rollo, pp. 3-44.
6 Id. at 172.
7 TSN, Oral Arguments on April 10, 2018.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2018, 02:01:01 PM »

Decision                             4                             G.R. No. 237428

Based on the records of the U.P. Human Resources Development Office (U.P. HRD0),( 8 ) respondent was on official leave from the U.P. College of Law for the following periods:

June 1, 2000 - May 31, 2001
June 1, 2001 - May 31, 2002
November 1, 2003 - May 31, 2004
June 1, 2004 - October 31, 2004
November 1, 2004 - February 10, 2005
February 11, 2005 - October 31, 2005
November 15, 2005 - May 31, 2006

While being employed at the U.P. College of Law, or from October 2003 to 2006, respondent was concurrently employed as legal counsel of the Republic in two international arbitrations: (a) PIATCO v. Republic of the Philippines and MIAA; and (b) Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide v. Republic of the Philippines (PIATCO cases).(9)

The Personal Data Sheet (PDS) accomplished under oath by respondent further details, among others, the following engagements/services rendered by her for various government agencies:(10)

Position: Legal Counsel 

Department/Agency: Various agencies of government--- Office of the President, Office of the Solicitor General, Manila International Airport Authority, Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, WTO-AFTA Commission, Philippine Coconut Authority 

Nature of Work: Legal--- various international trade and investment law in WTO (Geneva), ICSID (Washington, DC), ICC-ICA (Singapore, Paris), and in bilateral dispute resolution mechanisms

Supervisor: Executive Secretaries Alberto Romulo, Eduardo Ermita, and Leandro Mendoza; Presidential Legal Counsel Avelino Cruz and Merceditas Gutierrez; Solicitor Generals Alfredo Benipayo, Antonio Nachura and Agnes Devanadera; MIAA General Manager Alfonso Cusi, Sen. Edgardo Angara, Sec. Salvador Escudero, Undersecretary Thomas Aquino, Amb. Lilia Bautista

-------
8 Annex "D" of the Petition.
9 Id. at 173. 10 Id. at 850-851.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2018, 02:32:02 PM »

Decision                             5                             G.R. No. 237428

Position: Deputy Commissioner 

Department/Agency: Commission on Human Rights (UP Diliman, Commonwealth Ave., QC, TEL:928-7098)

Nature of Work: Legal and Administrative

Supervisor: Acting Chairman & Commissioner Abelardo Aportadera (TEL: 687-7571)

Incidentally, the U.P. HRDO certified that there was no record on respondent's 201 file of any permission to engage in limited practice of profession.(11) Her engagement as legal counsel for the Republic continued until 2009.(12)

Despite having been employed at the U.P. College of Law from November 1986 to June 1, 2006, the record of the U.P. HRDO only contains the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for 1985,(13) 1990,(14) 1991, (15) 1993,(16) 1994,(17) 1995,(18) 1996,(19) 1997,size=6pt](20)[/size] and 2002,(21) filed by respondent. On the other hand, the records of the Central Records Division of the Office of the Ombudsman yields that there is no SALN filed by respondent for calendar years 1999 to 2009 except for the SALN ending December 1998 which was subscribed only in August 2003 and transmitted by the U.P. HRDO to the Ombudsman only on December 16, 2003.(22) Belatedly, in respondent's Ad Cautelam Manifestation/Submission, she attached a copy of her SALN for 1989(23) which she supposedly sourced from the "filing cabinets"(24) or "drawers of U.P."(25) Similarly, despite having been employed as legal counsel of various government agencies from 2003 to 2009, there is likewise no showing that she filed her SALNs for these years, except for the SALN ending December 31, 2009 which was  unsubscribed and filed before the Office of the Clerk of Court only on June 22, 2012.

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11 Id. at 65.
12 Id. at 173.
13 Id. at 597-597 A.
14 Id. at 598-598A.
15 Id. at 599-599A.
16 Id. at 600-600A.
17 Id. at 601-601A.
18 Id. at 602-602A.
19 Id. at 603-603A.
20 Id. at 604-604A.
21 Id. at 54-55.
22 Id. at 60-62.
23 ld. at 1727-1728.
24 TSN, Oral Arguments on April 10, 2018, p. 105.
25 TSN, Oral Arguments on April 10, 2018, p. 120.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2018, 02:46:33 PM »

Decision                             6                             G.R. No. 237428

After having served as a professor at the U.P. College of Law until 2006, and thereafter as practitioner in various outfits including as legal counsel for the Republic until 2009, the respondent submitted her application for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in July 2010.

In support of her application as Associate Justice, respondent submitted to the Office of Recruitment Selection and Nomination (ORSN) of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) her SALN for the year 2006.(26) This SALN for 2006 bears no stamp received by the U.P. HRDO and was signed on July 27, 2010.(27) According to respondent, the JBC considered her nomination for the position of Associate Justice as that of a private practitioner and not as a government employee.(28) Only recently, in a letter(29) to the ORSN dated February 2, 2018, likewise attached to her Ad Cautelam Manifestation/Submission, respondent would explain that such SALN was really intended to be her SALN as of July 27, 2010.(30) Respondent further explained during the Oral Arguments that she merely downloaded the SALN form and forgot to erase the year "2006" printed thereon and that she was not required by the ORSN to submit a subscribed SALN.(31)

Thus, as the certifications executed by the U.P. HRDO, the Ombudsman and the ORSN of the JBC stand, the only SALNs available on record and filed by respondent were those for the calendar years 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2002 or eleven (11) SALNs filed in her 20-year government service in U.P. No SALNs were filed from 2003 to 2006 when she was employed as legal counsel for the Republic. Neither was there a SALN filed when she resigned from U.P. College of Law as of June 1, 2006 and when she supposedly re-entered government service as of August 16, 2010.

In tabular form, respondent's inclusive years in government employment vis-a-vis the SALNs filed by her and available on record are as follows:

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26 Id. at 67-70.
27 Id.
28 Id. at 174.
29 Id. at 1729-1730.
30 TSN, Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives.
31 TSN, Oral Arguments dated April 10, 2018.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2018, 08:12:16 PM »

Decision                             7                             G.R. No. 237428

As faculty member of the U.P. College of Law:

Year: 1986
SALN ought to be filed: SALN as of November 1986 (entry SALN)
SALN actually filed by respondent: SALN ending December 31, 1985; -no record of SALN as of November 1986-
 
Year: 1987
SALN ending December 31, 1986
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

Year: 1988
SALN ending December 31, 1987
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

Year: 1989
SALN ending December 31, 1988
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

Year: 1990
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 1989
SALN actually filed by respondent: December 31, 1989 (sourced by respondent from one of the "filing cabinets" or "drawers" of U.P.)

Year: 1991
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 1990
SALN actually filed by respondent: SALN ending December 31, 1990

Year: 1992
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December SALN ending December 31, 1990
SALN actually filed by respondent: December 31, 1991

Year:1993
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 1992
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

Year: 1994
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 1993
SALN actually filed by respondent: December 31, 1993

Year:1995
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 1994
SALN actually filed by respondent: December 31, 1994

Year:1996
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 1995
SALN actually filed by respondent: December 31, 1995

Year: 1997
SALN ought to be filed: December SALN ending December 31, 1996
SALN actually filed by respondent: December 31, 1996

Year: 1998
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December SALN ending December 31, 1997
SALN actually filed by respondent: December 31, 1997

Year: 1999
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 1998
SALN actually filed by respondent: December 31, 1998 (filed with the Ombudsman on December 16, 2003)

Year: 2000
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 1999
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

Year: 2001
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 2000
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

Year: 2002
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 2001
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

(note: sourced from tabular form by poster)

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2018, 08:46:37 PM »

Decision                             8                             G.R. No. 237428

Year: 2003
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 2002
SALN actually filed by respondent: SALN ending December 31,2002

Year: 2004
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 2003
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

Year: 2005
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 2004
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-

Year: 2006
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 2005
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record-
 
June 1, 2006
SALN ought to be filed: SALN as of June 1, 2006 (exit SALN)
SALN actually filed by respondent: -no record of SALN as of June 1, 2006 (exit SALN)-

Alleged break in government service from June 2, 2006 until August 15, 2009 but was engaged as legal counsel for the Republic from June 2, 2006 to 2009.

As Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:

Year: August 16, 2010
SALN ought to be filed: SALN as of August 16, 2010 (re-entry SALN)
SALN actually filed by respondent: SALN ending December 31, 2009 but filed with the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc only on June 22, 2012 and unsubscribed
-no record of SALN as of August 16, 2010 (re-entry SALN)-

Year: 2011
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 2010
SALN actually filed by respondent: SALN ending December 31, 2010 but unsubscribed

Year: 2012
SALN ought to be filed: SALN ending December 31, 2011
SALN actually filed by respondent: SALN ending December 31, 2011

A month after, or on August 13, 2010, respondent was appointed by then President Benigno C. Aquino III (President Aquino III) as Associate Justice, and on August 16, 2010, respondent took her oath of office as such.

When the position of the Chief Justice was declared vacant in 2012, the JBC announced(32) the opening for application and recommendation of the position of Chief Justice. During the 2012 deliberations for the position of the Chief Justice, the members of the JBC En Banc were  Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta (Justice Peralta) as Acting ex officio Chairman; Undersecretary Michael Frederick L. Musngi as ex officio member vice Leila M. De Lima; Senator Francis Joseph G. Escudero and Representative Niel Tupas as ex officio members representing the Congress; Justice Regino C. Hermosisima Jr. as regular member representing the retired Supreme Court Justices; Justice Aurora Santiago Lagman as regular member representing the Private Sector; Atty. Maria Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa as regular member representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and Atty. Jose V.

-------
32 Id. at 83.

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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2018, 09:06:48 PM »

Decision                             9                             G.R. No. 237428

Mejia as regular member representing the academe. The JBC Executive Committee (Execom) was composed of the JBC Regular Members and assisted by the Office of the Executive Officer (OEO) headed by Atty. Annaliza S. Ty-Capacite (Atty. Capacite ).

The JBC announcement was preceded by an En Banc meeting held on June 4, 2012 wherein the JBC agreed to require the applicants for the Chief Justice position to submit, instead of the usual submission of the SALNs for the last two years of public service, all previous SALNs up to December 31, 2011 for those in government service. (33) However, for the other judicial vacancies, the JBC required the submission of only two SALNs.(34) Accordingly, in the Announcement(35) published on June 5, 2012, the JBC specifically directed the ~andidates for the Chief Justice post to submit, in addition to the usual documentary requirements, the following:

(1) Sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN):

a. for those in the government: all previous SALNs (up to 31 December 2011)
 
b. for those from the private sector: SALN as of 31 December 2011

(2) Waiver in favor of the JBC of the confidentiality of local and foreign bank accounts under the Bank Secrecy Law and Foreign Currency Deposits Act. 36 (Emphasis ours)


The JBC announcement further provided that "applicants with incomplete or out-of-date documentary requirements will not be interviewed or considered for nomination."(37)

Nevertheless, the JBC En Banc subsequently agreed to extend the deadline for the filing of applications or recommendations to July 2, 2012 and the submission of the other documentary requirements to July 17, 2012.(38)
 
On June 25, 2012, the JBC En Banc resolved not to require the incumbent Supreme Court Justices who are candidates for the Chief Justice position to submit other documentary requirements, particularly the required clearances. Instead, the JBC En Banc required the incumbent Justices to submit only the SALNs, bank waiver, medical certificate, laboratory results and the PDS.

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33 TSN dated February 12, 2018, X-3, Committee on Justice ofthe House of Representatives; see also Joint Comment of JBC Regular Members Atty. Jose V. Mejia and Atty. Maria Milagros Fernan-Cayosa (Re: Resolution dated 20 February 2018) in A.M. No. 17-11-12-SC and A.M. No. 17-11-17-SC.
34 JBC Announcement dated June 19, 2012; id. at 2190.
35 Id. at 84-86.
36 Id. at 83.
37 Id. at 86.
38 JBC Announcement dated June 19, 2012; id. at 2190.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2018, 09:40:11 PM »

Decision                             10                             G.R. No. 237428

On July 2, 2012, respondent accepted several nominations from the legal and the evangelical community for the position of Chief Justice and in support of her nomination, respondent submitted to the ORSN her SALNs for the years 2009,(39) 2010,(40) and 2011. (41) Respondent also executed a waiver of confidentiality(42) of her local and foreign bank accounts.(43)

On July 6, 2012, or even before the deadline of the submission of the documentary requirements on July 17, 2012, the JBC En Banc came up with a long list of the candidates totaling twenty-two (22), respondent included, and scheduled the public interview of said candidates on July 24-27, 2012.(44)

On July 20, 2012, the JBC in its Special En Banc Meeting,(45) deliberated on the candidates for the position of Chief Justice with incomplete documentary requirements. In particular, the JBC examined the list of candidates and their compliance with the required submission of SALNs. The minutes of the JBC deliberation reveal as follows:

xxxx

The Executive Officer asked for clarification, particularly with respect to SALNs, whether five (5) SALNs would constitute a substantial compliance if the candidate has been in the government service for twenty (20) years.

The Council examined the list with regard to the SALNs, particularly the candidates coming from the government, and identified who among them would be considered to have substantially complied:

1. Justice Arturo D. Brion - has substantially complied

2. Justice Antonio T. Carpio - has substantially complied

3. Secretary Leila M. De Lima - has substantially complied

4. Chairperson Teresita J. Herbosa - has complied

5. Solicitor General Francis H. Jardeleza - has complied

6. Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro - has sµbstantially complied

7. Dean Raul C. Pangalangan


-------
39 Id. at 71-72.
40 Id. at 73-74.
41 Id. at 75-77.
42 Id. at 269.
43 Id. at 174-175.
44 Minutes of JBC Meeting dated July 6, 2012.
45 Annex "17" of the Comment.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2018, 09:51:28 PM »
 
Decision                             11                             G.R. No. 237428

The Executive Officer informed the Council that Dean Pangalangan lacks five (5) SALNs. She was informed that he could not obtain them from the U.P., but he is trying to get from the Civil Service Commission.

Justice Lagman moved that the SALNs of Dean Pangalangan be considered as substantial compliance.

8. Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez

Justice Peralta said that as per the report, Congressman Rodriguez did not submit even one SALN. He commented that he may not be interested although he accepted his nomination.

The Executive Officer informed the Council that he is abroad. He was notified through email, as his secretary would not give his contact number.

9. Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento - has lacking SALNs

10. Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno

The Executive Officer informed the Council that she had not submitted her SALNs for a period of ten (10) years, that is, from 1986 to 2006.

Senator Escudero mentioned that Justice Sereno was his professor at U.P. and that they were required to submit SALNs during those years.


11. Judge Manuel DJ Siayngco - has complied

Atty. Cayosa mentioned that Judge Siayngco has to submit a certificate of exemption because judges are also required to comply with that requirement.

12. Dean Amado D. Valdez - has lacking requirements

13. Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. - has complied

14. Atty. Vicente R. Velasquez - has lacking requirements

15. Dean Cesar L. Villanueva - has lacking requirements

16. Atty. Ronaldo B. Zamora - has lacking SALNs and MCLE
cert.


xxxx.(46) (Emphasis ours)

-------
46 Id. at 288-289.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2018, 10:11:24 PM »

Decision                             12                             G.R. No. 237428

Because there were several candidates with incomplete documentary requirements, the JBC En Banc agreed to again  extend the deadline for the submission of the lacking requirements to July 23, 2012 and that the determination of whether a candidate has substantially complied with the  requirements be delegated to the Execom. It also appears that the JBC En Banc further agreed that the candidates who fail to complete the requirements on said date are to be excluded from the list of candidates to be interviewed and considered for nomination, unless they would be included if in the determination of the Execom he or she has substantially complied.(47)

Thus, on July 20, 2012, the ORSN, through its then Chief Atty. Richard Pascual (Atty. Pascual), inquired as to respondent's SALNs for the years 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999. (48) During the Congressional hearings on impeachment, Atty. Pascual would later on testify that he asked respondent to submit her SALNs from 1996 to 2006, or spanning a period of 10 years.(49) During the Oral Arguments, respondent would maintain that Atty. Pascual only required her to submit her SALNs from 1995-1999 and did not ask for her more recent SALNs. Either way, the years requested from respondent are within the period (1986 to 2006) covered by her employment with the U.P. College of Law.

In response, the respondent, in the afternoon of July 23, 2012, transmitted a letter(50) of even date to the JBC, which stated:

xxxx

As I had noted in my Personal Data Sheet, after my resignation from government service in 2006, as a professor at the University of the Philippines, I became a full-time private practitioner. Hence, when I was nominated for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 2010, my nomination was considered as that of a private practitioner, and not as a government employee. Thus, the requirements imposed on me in connection with the consideration of my name, were those imposed on nominees from the private sector, and my earlier-terminated government service, did not control nor dominate the kind of requirements imposed on me.

Considering that most of my government records in the academe are more than fifteen years old, it is reasonable to consider it infeasible to retrieve all of those files.

In any case, the University of the Philippines has already cleared me of all academic/administrative responsibilities, money and property accountabilities and from administrative charges as of O 1 June 2006. Since it is the ministerial duty of the Head of the Office to ensure that the SALNs of its personnel are properly filed and accomplished (CSC


-------
47 Id. at 289-290.
48 Id. at 270-271.
49 House Committee Hearing on February 27, 2018.
50 Id. at 78-79 and 270-271.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2018, 10:29:23 PM »

Decision                             13                             G.R. No. 237428

Resolution No. 060231 dated 01 February 2006 and CSC Memorandum Circular No. 10-2006 dated 17 April 2006), this clearance can be taken as an assurance that my previous government employer considered the SALN requirements to have been met. A copy of the Clearance dated 19 September 2011 issued by the University of the Philippine~ is hereby attached.

In the 05 June 2012 Announcement, the Judicial and Bar Council imposed the requirement of submitting all previous SALNs for those in the government. As I pointed out earlier, my service in government is not continuous. The period of my private practice between my service in the University of the Philippines ending in 2006 and my appointment to the Supreme Court in 2010 presents a break in government service. Hence, in compliance with the documentary requirements for my candidacy as Chief Justice, I submitted only the SALN s from end of 2009 up to 31 December 2011, since I am considered to have been returned to public office and rendered government service anew from the time of my appointment as Associate Justice on 16 August 2010.

Considering that I have been previously cleared from all administrative responsibilities and accountabilities from my entire earlier truncated government service, may I kindly request that the requirements that I need to comply with, be similarly viewed as that from a private sector, before my appointment to the Government again m 2010 as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.


xxxx(51)

The letter dated July 23, 2012 was received by the Office of the Administrative and Financial Services (OAFS) and copies thereof were received by the offices of the JBC regular members, the ORSN and the OE0.(52) The letter, however, was neither examined by the JBC regular members nor was it deliberated upon either by the JBC En Banc or the Execom.(53) Although the determination of whether a candidate has substantially complied with the documentary requirements was delegated to the Execom, the latter could not produce any minutes of the meeting or record that the members thereof deliberated on the July 23, 2012 letter of respondent.(54)

-------
51 Id. at 78-79.
52 See Comment of Executive Officer Atty. Capacite in A.M. No. 17-11-12~SC and A.M. No. 17-11-17-SC, p. 5.
53 See Joint Comment of Atty. Mejia and Atty. Cayosa in A.M. No. 17-11-12-SC and A.M. No. 17-11-17-SC, p. 6.
54 Letter dated April 6, 2018 of Atty. Capacite to the Office of Justice Tijam, certifying that there was no such minutes of meeting. The letter states:
xxxx
     This pertains to your request (through a telephone call) this afternoon for a copy of the minutes of a meeting wherein the Executive Committee of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) supposedly made a detennination after the 20 July 2012 JBC En Banc meeting of who among the candidates for the Chief Justice position had or had not substantially complied with the documentary requirements for the said post.
     As I have earlier informed you, no such minutes is extant in our records.
xxxx.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2018, 10:44:51 PM »

Decision                             14                             G.R. No. 237428

On the scheduled date of the interview on July 24, 2012, despite respondent's submission of only 3 SALNs, Atty. Pascual prepared a Report Re: Documentary Requirements and SALN of candidates for the Position of Chief Justice of the Philippines(55) wherein respondent was listed as applicant No. 14 with an opposite annotation that she had "COMPLETE REQUIREMENTS" and a note stating "Letter 7/23/12 - considering that her government records in the academe are more than 15 years old, it is reasonable to consider it infeasible to retrieve all those files."

The JBC then proceeded to interview the candidates, including respondent who was interviewed on July 27, 2012. On August 6, 2012, the ORSN prepared a list of the 20 candidates, respondent included, vis-a-vis their SALN submissions. Opposite respondent's name was an enumeration of the SALNs she submitted, i.e., 2009, 2010 and 2011 and an excerpt from her July 23, 2012 letter that "considering that [respondent's] government records in the academe are more than 15 years old, it is reasonable to consider it infeasible to retrieve all those files." On August 13, 2012, the JBC voted on who would be included in the short list and on the same day, transmitted to the President its nominations(56) for the position of Chief Justice, as follows:

1. Carpio, Antonio T.
2. Abad, Roberto A.
3. Brion, Arturo D.
4. Jardeleza, Francis H.
5. Sereno, Maria Lourdes P.A.
6. Zamora, Ronaldo B.
7. Leonardo-De Castro, Teresita J.
8. Villanueva, Cesar L.


A month after respondent's acceptance of her nomination, or on August 24, 2012, respondent was appointed by then President Aquino III as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

On August 30, 2017, or five years after respondent's appointment as Chief Justice, an impeachment complaint was filed by Atty. Larry Gadon (Atty. Gadon) against respondent with the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives (House Committee on Justice) for culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, high crimes, and betrayal of public trust. The complaint also alleged that respondent failed to make truthful declarations in her SALNs.

-------
55 See Annex "C" of the Joint Comment of Atty. Mejia and Atty. Cayosa in A.M. No. 17-11-12-SC and A.M. No. 17-11-17-SC.
56 Id. at 278-279.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2018, 11:29:39 PM »
Decision                             15                             G.R. No. 237428

The impeachment complaint was endorsed by several members of the House and, thereafter, was found to be sufficient in form and substance. The respondent filed her answer to the impeachment complaint. After the filing of the reply and the rejoinder, the House Committee on Justice conducted several hearings on the determination of probable cause, the last of which was held on February 27, 2018.(57)

During these hearings, it was revealed that respondent purportedly failed to file her SALNs while she was a member of the faculty of the U.P. College of Law and that she filed her SALN only for the years 1998, 2002 and 2006. During the hearing on February 7, 2018 of the House Committee on Justice, Justice Peralta, as a resource person being then the acting ex-officio Chairman of the JBC, further claimed that during the JBC deliberations in 2012, he was not made aware that respondent submitted incomplete SALNs nor that respondent's letter dated July 23, 2012 to the JBC was ever deliberated upon.(58) This was confirmed by Atty. Fernan Cayosa;(59) by Atty. Capacite, who emphasized that based on the rubber stamp received, only the offices of the JBC regular members, the ORSN and the OEO were furnished copies of the letter;(60) and by Atty. Pascual on the basis of the transmittal letter.(61)

The foregoing sworn declarations made during the hearings before the House Committee on Justice spawned two relevant incidents: one, the proposal of the House Committee for this Court to investigate on the proceedings of the JBC relative to the nomination of respondent as Chief Justice which is now presently docketed as A.M. No. 17-11-12 and A.M. No. 17-11-17-SC; and two, the Letter(62) dated February 21, 2018 of Atty. Eligio Mallari to the OSG requesting that the latter, in representation of the Republic, initiate a quo warranto proceeding against respondent.

Thus, the present petition.

The Case for the Republic

The Republic, through the OSG, claims that an action for quo warranto is the proper remedy to question the validity of respondent's appointment. It alleges that the instant petition is seasonably filed within the one-year reglementary period under Section 11, Rule 66,(63) of the Rules of

-------
57 Id. at 176-177.
58 TSN dated February 7, 2018, VI-3, Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives.
59 TSN dated Febraury 12, 2018, LCLV, XIII-2, Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives.
60 TSN dated February 12, 2018, HLEF, XXII-3, Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives.
61 TSN dated February 12, 2018, LCLV, XXVIIl-4, Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives.
62 Id. at 93-94.
63 Sec. 11. Limitations. - Nothing contained in this Rule shall be construed to authorize an action against a public officer or employee for his ouster from office unless the same be commenced within one (l) year after the cause of such ouster, or the right of the petitioner to hold such office or position, arose, nor to authorize an action for damages in accordance with the provisions of the next preceding section unless the same be commenced within one (1) year after the entry of the judgment establishing the petitioner's right to the office in question.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2018, 12:04:29 AM »

Decision                             16                             G.R. No. 237428

Court since respondent's transgressions only came to light during the proceedings of the House Committee on Justice on the allegations of the impeachment complaint filed against her. Alternatively, the Republic claims that it has an imprescriptible right to bring a quo warranto petition under the maxim nullum tempus occurit regi.

In justifying resort to a petition for quo warranto, the Republic argues that quo warranto is available as a remedy even as against impeachable officers, like respondent. The Republic argues that a petition for quo warranto is different from the impeachment proceedings because the writ of quo warranto is being sought to question the validity of her appointment, while the impeachment complaint accuses her of committing culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust while in office.(64) Citing the 2010 Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) and the cases of Funa v. Chairman Villar(65) and Nacionalista Party v. De Vera,(66) the Republic argues that quo warranto may be resorted to even against impeachable officers and that the respondent's assumption of the position as Chief Justice under the color of an executive appointment is a public wrong correctible by quo warranto.

The Republic seeks to oust respondent from her position as Chief Justice on the ground that the latter failed to show that she is a person of proven integrity which is an indispensable qualification for membership in the Judidary under Section 7(3),(67) Article VIII of the Constitution. According to the Republic, because respondent failed to fulfill the JBC requirement of filing the complete SALNs, her integrity remains unproven. The Republic posits that the JBC's ostensible nomination of respondent does not extinguish the fact that the latter failed to comply with the SALN requirement as the filing thereof remains to be a constitutional and statutory requirement.(68)

In sum, the Republic contends that respondent's failure to submit her SALNs as required by the JBC disqualifies her, at the outset, from being a candidate for the position of Chief Justice. Lacking her SALNs, respondent has not proven her integrity which is a requirement under the Constitution. The Republic thus concludes that since respondent is ineligible for the position of Chief Justice for lack of proven integrity, she has no right to hold office and may therefore be ousted via quo warranto.

-------
64 Rollo, p. 13.
65 686 Phi I. 571 (2012).
66 85 Phil. 126 (1949).
67 Sec. 7. (3) A Member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence. (Emphasis ours)
68 Rollo, p. 28.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2018, 12:30:26 AM »

Decision                             17                             G.R. No. 237428

The Case for the Respondent

Being circumspect in the examination of every pleading and document on record, this Court observes that, initially, the Comment Ad Cautelam dated March 16, 2018 filed before Us was neither signed by the respondent herself nor verified to have been read by her and attested by her that the allegations therein are true and correct of her personal knowledge or based on authentic records. This Court is not unaware that under the Rules of Court, specifically Section 4, Rule 7, not all pleadings need to be under oath, verified, or accompanied by an affidavit. In fact, the rules on quo warranto do not require the filing of such comment, but pursuant to the dictates of the fundamental right of due process and also the desire of this Court to dispose of this case judiciously, impartially, and objectively, this Court gave the respondent the opportunity to be heard and oppose the allegations in the petition by requiring her to file a comment thereto. Thus, this Court anticipated a response from the respondent to take such opportunity to settle the uncertainty of her nomination and appointment through her comment to the petition. What was received by this Court, however, was an unverified Comment repudiating the Court's jurisdiction, merely signed by counsel, who appeared to be representing the respondent.

Wary of the legal implications of such unverified pleading, i.e. possible refutation of the allegations stated therein and repudiation of the signing counsel's authority to represent, this Court in its April 3, 2018 Resolution(69) set as a condition for the conduct of Oral Arguments prayed for by respondent, that the latter affirm and verify under oath the truth and veracity of the allegations in the Comment Ad Cautelam filed by counsel supposedly on her behalf.

In an Ad Cautelam Partial Compliance/Manifestation dated April 5, 2018, respondent affirmed and verified under oath the truth and veracity of the allegations in the said Comment Ad Cautelam through a Verification dated April 6, 2018 attached therein.

In the said Comment Ad Cautelam, respondent argues that, on the strength of Section 2,(70) Article XI of the 1987 Constitution and the cases of Mayor Lecaroz v. Sandiganbayan,(71) Cuenca v. Hon. Fernan,(72) In Re: First lndorsement from Hon. Gonzales,(73) and Re: Complaint-Affidavit for Disbarment Against Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio,(74) the Chief

-------
69 Id. at 501-505.
70 Sec. 2. The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as
provided by law, but not by impeachment.
71 213 Phil. 288 (1984).
72 241 Phil. 162 (1988).
73 243 Phil. 167 (1988).
74 En Banc Resolution dated August JO, 2012 in A.M. No. 12-8-4-SC.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2018, 12:42:56 AM »

Decision                             18                             G.R. No. 237428

Justice may be ousted from office only by impeachment. Respondent contends that the use of the phrase "may be removed from office" in Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution does not signify that Members of the Supreme Court may be removed through modes other than impeachment. According to respondent, the clear intention of the framers of the Constitution was to create an exclusive category of public officers who can be removed only by impeachment and not otherwise.

It is likewise the argument of respondent that since a petition for quo warranto may be filed before the RTC, such would result to a conundrum because a judge of lower court would have effectively exercised disciplinary power and administrative supervision over an official of the Judiciary much higher in rank and is contrary to Sections 6 and 11, Article VIII of the Constitution which vests upon the Supreme Court disciplinary and administrative power over all courts and the personnel thereof. She theorizes that if a Member of the Supreme Court can be ousted through quo warranto initiated by the OSG, the Congress' "check" on the Supreme Court through impeachment would be rendered inutile.

Respondent argues that the present petition is time-barred as Section 11, Rule 66 provides that a petition for quo warranto must be filed within one ( 1) year from the "cause of ouster" and not from the "discovery" of the disqualification. Respondent contends that the supposed "failure" to file the required SALNs allegedly took place for several years from 1986 to 2006, thus, the "cause of ouster" existed even before the respondent was appointed as Chief Justice on August 24, 2012. Therefore, as early as her appointment, the Republic, through the OSG, already had a cause of action to seek her ouster. Even assuming that the one-year prescriptive period may be counted from the Republic's "discovery" of the disqualification, the petition would still be time-barred since the Republic would have made such a "discovery" through U.P., considering that the U.P. HRDO is required to submit a list of employees who failed to file their SALNs.

Respondent avers that the Court cannot presume that she failed to file her SALNs because as a public officer, she enjoys the presumption that her appointment to office was regular. According to respondent, the Republic failed to overcome this presumption as the documents relied upon by it, i.e., certifications from the U.P. HRDO and the Ombudsman, do not categorically state that respondent failed to file her SALNs. On the contrary, respondent points out that the U.P. HRDO had certified that she had been cleared of all administrative responsibilities and charges as of June 1, 2006 and that there was no pending administrative charge against her.

It is likewise the contention of respondent that public officers without pay or those who do not receive compensation are not required to file a SALN. Thus, respondent argues that for the periods that she was on official

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2018, 12:56:31 AM »

Decision                             19                             G.R. No. 237428

leave without pay, she was actually not required to file any SALN for the inclusive years. She adds that to require the submission of SALNs as an absolute requirement is to expand the qualifications provided for under the Constitution.

Nonetheless, respondent represents that she continues to recover and retrieve her missing SALNs and will present them before the Senate sitting as the Impeachment Tribunal and not to this Court considering her objections to the latter's exercise of jurisdiction.

Respondent also stresses that the failure to file SALNs or to submit the same to the JBC has no bearing on one's integrity. The submission of SALNs was simply among the additional documents which the JBC had required of the applicants for the position of Chief Justice. It is respondent's position that the non-filing of SALN is not a ground for disqualification unless the same was already the subject of a pending criminal or administrative case or if the applicant had already been finally convicted for a criminal offense involving said failure to file SALNs. In this case, respondent points out that the JBC was made aware as early as July 20, 2012 that respondent had not submitted to the JBC her SALNs as a U.P. professor and yet none of them invoked Section 2, Rule 10 of JBC-009 or the "integrity rule."

Respondent likewise contends that the issue of whether an applicant for the position of Chief Justice is a person of "proven integrity" is a question "constitutionally committed to the JBC" and is therefore a political question which only the JBC could answer, and it did so in the affirmative when it included respondent's name in the shortlist of nominees for the position of Chief Justice.

The Republic's Reply

In refuting respondent's arguments, the Republic justifies its resort to the unconventional method of quo warranto. The Republic cites the cases of Estrada v. Desierto(75) and Lawyers League for a Better Philippines and/or Oliver Lozano v. President Corazon Aquino et al.(76) where this Court took cognizance of a petition for quo warranto to oust an impeachable official. It reiterates its argument that it seeks respondent's ouster, not on account of commission of impeachable offenses, but because of her ineligibility to assume the position of Chief Justice.

The Republic maintains that the phrase "may be removed from office" in Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution means that Members of the Supreme Court may be removed through modes other than impeachment and

-------
75 406 Phil. 1 (200 I).
76 En Banc Resolution dated May 22, 1986 in G.R. No. 73748.

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Re: Opinions by SC on the Sereno quo warranto case, full text/s
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2018, 01:21:56 AM »

Decision                             20                             G.R. No. 237428

disagrees with respondent's interpretation that the word "may" qualifies only the penalty imposable after the impeachment trial, i.e., removal from office. The Republic claims that respondent's interpretation would lead to an absurd situation in the event that the Senate imposes a lesser penalty, like suspension of the President, which would result in a vacancy in the position not intended by the Constitution. This is because vacancy in the Office of the President occurs only in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation, in which event the Vice-President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term.

Invoking the verba legis principle in statutory construction, the Republic claims that Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution does not expressly prohibit resort to other means to remove impeachable officers in position.

Contrary to respondent's claim that this Court has no disciplinary authority over its incumbent members, the Republic cites Section 13 of A.M. No. 10-4-20-SC which created a permanent Committee on Ethics and Ethical Standards, tasked to investigate complaints involving graft and corruption and ethical violations against members of the Supreme Court. The Republic points out that such Ethics Committee conducted the investigation in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC(77) and A.M. No. 09-2-19-SC.(78)

Meanwhile, in support of its claim that the petition is not time-barred, the Republic explains that the State has a continuous interest in ensuring that those who partake of its sovereign powers are qualified. It argues that the one-year period provided under Section 11 of Rule 66 merely applies to individuals who are claiming rights to a public office, and not to the State. To consider the instant petition as time-barred, the Republic argues, is to force the State to spend its resources in favor of an unqualified person.

Further, the Republic claims that even if it be assumed that the one year period applies against the State, it cannot be  deemed to have been notified of respondent's failure to file her SALNs. It argues that it has no statutory obligation to monitor compliance of government employees other than its own. It alleges that SALNs are not published, hence it has no feasible way of taking cognizance of respondent's failure to file SALN.

In any case, the Republic claims that the unique circumstances of the instant case behoove this Court to be liberal in interpreting the one-year reglementary period.

-------
77 647 Phil. 122 (2010).
78 599 Phil. 258 (2009).

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