Bad taste! Media manipulating Sereno shouldn’t have returned to SC before decision day – Leonen
Former Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno just couldn’t stop herself rubbing High Court colleagues the wrong way.
Last March, Sereno earned the ire of 13 of her colleagues when she made it appear that she was voluntarily taking a wellness leave to prepare for her impeachment trial when in fact she was forced to go on indefinite leave while the rest of the Supreme Court magistrates tackled the quo warranto case filed against her by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Two months later, Sereno ended her leave on May 8 and made a grand return to her Padre Faura office in a publicity stunt which rankled the rest of the SC.
In his dissenting opinion to the 8-6 vote disqualifying Sereno for non-filing of her statement of assets, liabalities and net worth, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said Sereno was an unwanted presence as the High Court was in the midst of preparing for the case seeking to kick her out of office.
Besides, during the deliberations of February 27, 2018, respondent indeed attempted to convince her colleagues to characterize her leave as a wellness leave. She, together with all the other Justices present, knows that it
was not accepted.
“Strangely, she appeared at the Court’s steps on May 8, 2018 purportedly to end her leave, knowing fully well that it was part of a collegial decision with her peers. She (Sereno) was well aware that the Court was on an intensive decision
writing break for the whole month, and hence, there was no special reason for her to report back without the approval of the Court,” Leonen said.
“Her reporting for work did not appear to have any urgent motive except her desire to preside over the special session of the en bane where the main agenda was the deliberation of this case.The respondent knows fully well that she is a party to her case. For her to report to control the bureaucracy of the Court-such as the Clerk of Court and its process servers-when her case is for decision, and for her to put herself in a position to be engaged in ex parte communication with the sitting
justices who will decide her case, border on the contumacious,” he added.
Leonen said Sereno’s unwelcome return violated Canon 13 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which barred abogados from “any impropriety which tends to influence, or gives the appearance of influencing the Court.”
“For a party to do everything in her power to undermine the
Court for fear of an adverse result may breach not only judicial courtesy but
also our professional responsibilities as a lawyer,” Leonen said.