MANILA — Two magistrates of the Supreme Court (SC) said on Monday that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s application for the top judiciary post in 2012 should have been rejected when she failed to submit her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
During the impeachment hearing of the House justice committee against Sereno, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro said the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) committed “grave injustice” to the candidates for chief justice when Sereno was included in the nominees despite failing to comply with the SALN submission.
De Castro said the JBC announced in newspapers that applicants “with incomplete, out-of-date documentary requirements” will not be considered.
“There was a grave injustice done to the applicants because of what they did to Sereno at that time,” De Castro said.
De Castro said the JBC “became very strict” when former chief justice Renato Corona was impeached on the ground that he failed to include his dollar deposits in his SALN.
According to De Castro, the JBC required applicants for chief justice to submit their SALNs for a ten-year period together with a waiver of secrecy of their bank records.
“The submission of the SALN is very important. Why is it the JBC allowed the inclusion of then associate justice Sereno in the applicants to be interviewed?” De Castro said.
“She should have been excluded in the interview but she was interviewed,” she added.
De Castro said Sereno sent a letter to the JBC stating that she cannot submit any of her SALNs when she was a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP).
“There is not even a single attempt to comply,” De Castro said.
Over the course of the impeachment proceedings, it was discovered that Sereno only filed SALNs for the years 1998, 2002, and 2006 during her tenure as law professor at the UP College of Law from 1986 up to 2006. Sereno failed to submit her SALNs 17 times.
Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta echoed De Castro’s sentiments, saying the application of Sereno “should have been denied.”
Peralta recalled JBC rejected his wife’s nomination as presiding justice just because her National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance was not validated.
“If the requirements are not complete then the application should not have been admitted or accepted,” Peralta said.
JBC Executive Officer Annaliza Capacite, for her part, said that “an attempt to comply” on the SALN requirement is already a sufficient parameter. She said Sereno submitted 3 SALNs during her application in 2012.