Mutiny in the SC: Leonen-led ‘Radical 7’ pushes Sereno out with Caguioa on leave
At least seven Supreme Court justices had lost confidence in Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that they felt it was best she take a leave as the impeachment proceedings drag on.
The so-called “Radical 7” made their sentiments known during a heated en banc session on February 27, where they demanded that Sereno take a leave or they will publicly call for her resignation.
Leading the pack of Sereno’s opponents in the Supreme Court is Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who was widely perceived to be the Chief Justice’s ally until he turned the tables on her in the en banc session.
Based on reports quoting sources within the Supreme Court, Leonen asked Sereno to take a leave so Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio can lead the tribunal.
Sereno, however, refused, saying her colleagues don’t have the power to remove her.
Backing Leonen were Associate Justices Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Diosdado Peralta, Francis Jardeleza, Lucas Bersamin, and Teresita Leonardo-De Castro.
Meanwhile, on Sereno’s side were Carpio, and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco, Estela Perlas-Bernae, Mariano del Castillo, Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo.
While no vote was cast regarding the suggestion for Sereno to take a leave, a source said the Leonen-led “Radical 7” would have pushed for her temporary departure from the Supreme Court if voting took place.
Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa would’ve been the swing vote but he was on leave.
During the discussions, sources said Sereno asked to talk to her lawyers first but was told by her colleagues— some angrily— that she was the Chief Justice and should thus make the decision herself.
After much thought, Sereno asked to talk to Carpio and Velasco, the two most senior members of the Supreme Court.
It was after their conversation that Sereno announced she will go on an indefinite leave.
Her camp, however, claimed she was just going on her scheduled “wellness leave,” further angering her colleagues, who believed she lied to the public.
According to sources, it was Leonen who made the rounds among the justices to sign a statement making it clear that Sereno would take an indefinite leave, as agreed upon during the en banc session.
With the exception of Caguioa all remaining 13 members of Supreme Court signed the statement on Sereno.