MANILA, Philippines – A supporter of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno wrote to Solicitor General Jose Calida on Friday, April 20, urging him to initiate a similar quo warranto proceeding to remove Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro.
Jocelyn Marie Acosta, who has been visible in pro-Sereno rallies and who had once identified herself as a member of the group, The Silent Majority, accused De Castro of similarly violating the constitutional requirement of integrity when she, too, did not submit all her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs).
Private individual named Jocelyn Acosta writes to @SolGenCalida to initiate a similar quo warranto proceeding against AJ Teresita Leonardo De Castro on basis of allegedly submitting only 15 out of a total 39 SALNs from her years in public service @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/M3DwksZyqQ — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) April 20, 2018
Context. Calida’s case against Sereno is that her appointment as chief justice in 2012 was not valid because she did not submit all her SALNs to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which required them. Because of this, Calida said Sereno violated the constitutional requirement of integrity to be a member of the Court.
In her letter, Acosta disagreed with Calida's logic, saying that the JBC could waive its requirement if it wanted to, which it did for Sereno when it shortlisted her.
But it was good enough for Sereno, then it should be good enough for De Castro, as far as Acosta is concerned.
“I invoke the same grounds raised by Mr Mallari in his letter as sufficient grounds for you to file a similar petition for quo warranto against Justice De Castro. 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 said.
Acosta was referring to suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari who submitted a letter to Calida, asking him to file a quo warranto petition.
The first issue: were they required all SALNs or just the last 10 SALNs?
De Castro said only the last 10, which she was able to meet. When she applied for chief justice in 2012, she submitted 15 years worth of SALN, from 1997 to 2011. She was already an associate justice at the time.
Sereno said De Castro’s 10-year rule is “self-serving.”
In her letter, Acosta cited the announcement of the JBC for the chief justice post in 2012, saying “all previous SALNs up to December 31, 2011” were required.
Is it applicable to De Castro? A quo warranto proceeding attacks the eligibility of an individual to hold office. In Sereno’s case, her appointment as chief justice.
De Castro wasn’t appointed as chief justice in 2012, so the attack must go back to her appointment as SC associate justice in 2007.
Did the JBC require SALNs in 2007?
A 2012 press release from former JBC member Senator Francis Escudero said SALNs were a “new requirement” for that year. Escudero said the JBC approved his motion to require SALNs especially after the Renato Corona trial.
However Calida appreciates Acosta's letter, De Castro is set to leave the High Court anyway. She reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in October this year.
The effect of Acosta’s letter could possibly be on Sereno, and her case that's about to be decided by her fellow justices.
It can be recalled that during oral arguments, Sereno had asked De Castro, “Can I have your assurance that when a quo warranto is filed against you, you would also under oath answer all questions on SALN?”
Two weeks later, Acosta sent the letter. – Rappler.com