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No let up in controversies following quo warranto ruling

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By Charmaine A. Tadalan and Camille A. Aguinaldo

IN THE continuing aftermath of the Supreme Court’s May 11 validation of his quo warranto petition against ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida was asked on Friday to make public his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN) from 2016 to 2018.

Private citizen Jocelyn Marie F. Acosta filed before the Office of the Solicitor-General (OSG) the request to see Mr. Calida’s SALNs to verify if he “accurately” declared his 60% share in the security agency Vigilant Investigative and Security Agenda, Inc. (VISAI).

The Sereno supporter said the remaining shares belong to members of Mr. Calida’s family as cited in the General Information Sheet filed with the Securities Exchange Commission, dated September 26, 2016.

The company serves as the security agency of the National Economic Development Authority, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and National Parks Development Corporation.

“We hereby file a demand for your SALNs for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 so the People may see that you have accurately declared your family’s ownership of VISAI, among other assets,” Ms. Acosta said.

The SALN for 2018, however, will not be available until next year.

Mr. Calida, in March, filed a quo warranto petition against Ms. Sereno to challenge the validity of her appointment. The case was based on Ms. Sereno’s failure to submit her SALN to the Judicial Bar Council (JBC).

The ousted chief justice, however, maintained that she has complied with the SALN requirement for all government officials.

The lower chamber has yet to trasmit its articles of impeachment to the Senate while members of the upper chamber yesterday filed a resolution urging the SC to review its quo warranto decision.

Malacañang, meanwhile, criticized Ms. Sereno’s resignation call to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, saying the ousted chief magistrate has herself to blame for the Supreme Court ruling that removed her from office.

“Ex-CJ Sereno should closely look at the mirror to see who is behind the Supreme Court ruling. She herself violated the Constitution by not filing her SALN and she herself managed to alienate her own colleagues at the High Court,” presidential spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said on Friday in a statement.

Mr. Roque pointed out that Mr. Duterte has not violated the Constitution unlike the ousted chief justice, noting too the President’s high satisfaction, approval, performance and trust ratings.

He also slammed Ms. Sereno for grandstanding in her numerous public appearances.

“We have earlier refrained from commenting on the former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s call for the President to resign. However, the former top magistrate has been engaged in grandstanding and seeking media coverage, pointing an accusing finger at President Duterte for the result of the quo warranto petition filed against her,” the presidential spokesperson said.

“We consider this unfortunate for the truth is, four other fingers point to her,” he added.

On the view that Ms. Sereno was being used as a rallying figure by opposition groups, Mr. Roque said, “This is a big mistake because we believe that in all the surveys, the chief justice is not trusted and her approval rating is low.”

“If she will be the rallying figure of the opposition, oh no, you’re doomed,” he added.

At the House of Representatives, Caloocan Rep. Edcel C. Lagman said the eight “grievously errant” justices who voted in favor of the quo warranto petition”deserve to be impeached.”

“They are liable for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust, among other impeachable offenses,” Lagman said in a statement on Friday.

The eight Associate Justices who voted against Ma. Sereno are Teresita L. De Castro, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Francis H. Jardeleza, Samuel R. Martires, Noel G. Tijam, Andres B. Reyes, Jr., and Alexander G. Gesmundo.

“An invocation of the principle that what the majority of the Supreme Court say ‘is the law’ will not cleanse the gross blunder committed by the eight Justices,” Mr. Lagman said. “The act of promulgating their unconstitutional decision completes the consummation of the impeachable offenses.”

Representatives Tom S. Villarin and Gary Alejano have made similar calls.

For his part, Rep. Gary C. Alejano said the Magdalo party-list group is mulling the filing of impeachment complaints against the justices.

“This action, which the Magdalo has been proposing, was already discussed in meetings with various opposition groups and apparently has gained support,” he said.

For its part, the Ateneo De Manila University called for the public’s support for the filing of the motion for reconsideration on the quo warranto ruling.

“I am calling on the (Ateneo community) to convince the courts and the public to support the Motion for Reconsideration that will be filed at the Supreme Court in the next days,” Ateneo President Jose Ramon T Villarin said in a memo on Thursday.

The university earlier asked the SC to dismiss the quo warranto petition against Ms. Sereno.