Calida: Sereno misleads Pinoys anew over ‘retrieved SALNs’

MANILA — Solicitor General Jose Calida said the Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) retrieved by the camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno were the same documents his office had obtained and submitted to the Supreme Court, calling the top magistrate’s move as an attempt to “mislead the Filipino people.”

Calida reacted to claims made by one of Sereno’s spokespersons, lawyer Josalee Deinla, that Sereno managed to recover the SALNs she had filed when she was still law professor at the University of the Philippines (UP).

Deinla cited the nine SALNs were for the years 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 from the UP Law Center.

“Today, Sereno again attempted to mislead the Filipino people. Sereno claims to have recovered eight of her SALNs. Except for her 1989 SALN, assuming it is not a fabrication, those Sereno supposedly ‘recovered’ were the same ones submitted by the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) to the Supreme Court,” Calida posted on Twitter Thursday.

He also posted on Twitter the reply letter of UP Human Resources Development Office director Angelo Escoto, noting that UP provided the OSG copies of Sereno’s SALN for the years 1985, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994,1995, 1996, 1997 and 2002.

“As Petitioner, the Republic has the ‘burden of proof’ to establish that Sereno failed to file her SALNs. This certification from the UP HRDO is proof enough,” the OSG chief noted.

“The burden now shifts to Sereno, who must offer evidence that she indeed filed her SALNs,” he added.

Calida filed before the SC a quo warranto petition which sought to void her 2012 appointment as chief justice for failing to comply with the requirements of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) by filing her SALNs.

Sereno faced her probing colleagues at the Supreme Court in Baguio City on Tuesday, a first in Philippine history.

The SC held oral arguments on the quo warranto petition filed by the OSG against Sereno, seeking to nullify her appointment over her alleged non-filing of her SALN.

Sereno was even required by her colleagues to answer their questions under oath.

The submission of the SALN was a JBC requirement when she applied for the associate justice post in 2010 and for the chief justice post in 2012, Calida said.

While admitting that Sereno is an impeachable officer, Calida said she may still be removed from office through a quo warranto petition.

He said the offenses that may warrant the filing of a quo warranto petition are different from the offenses that would warrant the filing of an impeachment complaint.

Sereno, currently on indefinite leave from office, has sought the dismissal of the case, arguing that the SC has no jurisdiction and authority to remove her from office because the 1987 Constitution provides that she could only be ousted by impeachment in Congress as an impeachable official.

Citing Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution, she said impeachable officials — including herself and all justices of the SC — may only be removed from office upon impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio ended the oral arguments by directing both parties to submit their respective memoranda and pertinent documents on or before April 20.