Sereno says sorry for confusion over indefinite leave

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has apologized for the confusion over her indefinite leave, after 13 justices came out with a joint statement on Thursday, March 1, contradicting the version of her spokespersons.

“It is unfortunate that my plan of making use of an already approved wellness leave in relation to an indefinite leave was inaccurately conveyed for which I apologize,” Sereno said in a statement on Thursday, March 5.

There were discrepancies over her taking a leave: her spokespersons said Tuesday that it was a "wellness leave" taken ahead of schedule, while the 13 justices said it was an indefinite leave. (READ: INSIDE STORY: SC justices pressure Sereno to go on leave)

"The Chief Justice herself announced that she was taking an indefinite leave, with the amendment that she start the leave early on Thursday, March 1, 2018,”  the 13 justices said in a statement read by SC Spokesperson Theodore Te.

The 13 justices said the spokespersons’ version “damaged the integrity of the judiciary.”

In her statement on Thursday, Sereno said, “I had agreed to go on an indefinite leave, but I am also bound by the appropriate administrative rules.” 

JUST IN: CJ Sereno: “It is unfortunate that my plan of making use of an already approved wellness leave in relation to an indefinite leave was inaccurately conveyed for which I apologize.” @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/kMCZtb1BvE — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) March 1, 2018

Sereno explained that since SC rules do not contain any provision on “indefinite leave,” she had to qualify her leave.

Rules 7, Section 6(c) of the SC internal rules lay out scenarios for a wellness, vacation, or sick leave.

Because she already had a scheduled wellness leave from March 12 to 23, Sereno said she had to go by that.

“I requested yesterday in writing the rescheduling of my wellness leave in view of my restudy of the rules,” Sereno said. 

The joint statement on Thursday, however, said, “The Chief Justice did not request the rescheduling of her wellness leave.”

Justices warned they would deal with the “damaging” statements of Sereno’s spokespersons. “The Court expected the Chief Justice to cause the announcement of only what was really agreed upon without any modification or embellishment,” they said.

In response, Sereno said, “The Chief Justice understands the sense of the 13 justices that they expected me, in the normal course of events, to cause the announcement of my indefinite leave."

Sereno added: “I have not resigned and I will not resign. This indefinite leave is not a resignation. I will devote my time to the preparation of my Senate defense and work on the cases in my docket.” 

With Sereno on leave, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio takes over as Acting Chief Justice. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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