Sereno wants 'faith-shaming' justice to inhibit in quo warranto case

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has sought the inhibition of Associate Justice Samuel Martires in her quo warranto case, her camp said on Saturday, May 5.

The Sereno camp said in a statement that the Chief Justice filed the petition seeking to inhibit Martires in the case on Friday, May 4, citing his alleged manifestation of "actual bias" against Sereno during the April 10 oral arguments on the quo warranto petition.

This was when Martires seemed to insinuate that Sereno was suffering from a mental illness due to her faith in God. At the time, he was posing some questions to Solicitor General Jose Calida, who filed the quo warranto petition against Sereno.

"Would you agree it a mental illness when a person always invokes God as the source of his strength? The source of happiness? The source of everything in life? Is that mental illness?” Martires asked Calida. 

The Sereno camp alleged that this was a case of "faith-shaming."

In filing the petition, Sereno cited Canon 3, Section 5(a) of the New Code Of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, which states that judges shall disqualify themselves from a proceeding where they are unable to decide a matter impartially, specifically in instances where a judge has actual bias concerning a party.

Because he allegedly showed bias, Sereno said that Martires’ participation in the case would violate her constitutional right to due process, which requires a hearing before an impartial and disinterested tribunal.

“With due respect, it appears that Justice Martires has formed an opinion on the competence of Respondent (Sereno) to serve as Chief Justice on some basis other than what he learned from his participation in this case. His objectivity and impartiality therefore appears to have been impaired,” Sereno said in her petition.

Martires is one of 6 justices the Chief Justice wants to inhibit in her quo warranto case. The other 5 are Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, and Noel Tijam.

The SC denied Sereno's motions for inhibition.

In the same petition, Sereno asked the SC en banc to resolve the separate motions to inhibit without the participation of the 6, and before the Court decides on the quo warranto petition.

“It is not wrong to expect that their presence, the [motions for inhibition] will not prosper merely because of the numerical strength of the justices whose competence is being challenged,” she said. 

She also said that the 6 justices should inhibit from the case “out of delicadeza and out of the great public necessity that this Honorable Court be perceived as a neutral body.” – Rappler.com