SC junks Lozano petition to void Sereno appointment

MANILA The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the petition filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano seeking to nullify the appointment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

SC spokesman Theodore Te announced the directive was issued following Tuesday's regular en banc session of the magistrates.

Lozano filed a petition seeks to declare void the appointment of Sereno accordingly in the paramount interest of public welfare.

The Court resolved to dismiss the petition (to declare void the appointment of the Chief Justice) dated March 1, 2018 for failing to provide substantial allegations to justify a cause of action, Te said in a press conference.

Lozano, a known Marcos loyalist, said the impeachment hearing at the House of Representatives and the question on Sereno's qualification have caused deep division and dissension in the Bench and Bar.

We respectfully pray that the Honorable Court en banc, motu proprio (on its own), declare void the appointment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno accordingly in the paramount interest of Public Welfare, Lozano said in his petition.

To end forthwith the divisive, disastrous and internationally ignominious controversy; and, thus, preserve the integrity of the judiciary and public faith in the justice system, we respectfully submit that the activists and revered Supreme Court can, under its inherent and plenary powers, promptly rule motu proprio, upon the validity of Chief Justice Sereno's appointment. The verdict will also preserve the independence of the Judiciary from Congress, Lozano said, who is the second lawyer to seek a "shortcut" in removing Sereno from her post.

The top magistrate is facing an impeachment trial for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.

The House of Representatives justice panel is set to vote on whether the complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon has probable cause to oust Sereno on Thursday.

Sereno, who is currently on indefinite leave, earlier said her leave is meant for her to prepare her legal defense in her impeachment case, which is expected to reach the Senate anytime soon.

The 13 justices said that they reached a consensus on an en banc session last February 27 that Sereno should take an indefinite leave.

The impeachment complaint was filed by lawyer Larry Gadon who claimed that Sereno did not declare in her SALN the exorbitant lawyer's fees of USD745,000 (PHP37 million) which she received from the Philippine government.

The impeachment complainant said the issue of SALN declaration is the strongest case presented against Sereno.

The complaint also alleged that Sereno committed corruption when she, among other things, used public funds to finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle by ordering the purchase of a brand-new luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 model as her personal vehicle, amounting to more than PHP5 million; and stay in opulent hotels when attending conferences in the country and abroad.

Source: Philippine News Agency