THE news that Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is willing to testify in the impeachment proceeding against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno before the House Committee on Justice could prove to be the fatal blow against her hopes to stay in office.
Making history, three incumbent SC justices namely Noel Tijam, Francis Jardeleza, and Teresita Leonardo De Castro, as well as retired Justice Arturo Brion have testified before the committee and provided evidence that taken apparently supports probable cause against Sereno.
Reports of internal in-fighting in the SC comes out every now and then but never before had an SC justice came out in the open to denounce the alleged wrongdoing of a fellow SC justice.
Earlier, Associate Justice Samuel Martirez had informed the House committee of his willingness to testify too against Sereno.
Then came reports that Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo and Carpio are set to appear and testify before the Committee on Justice when its resumes the impeachment proceedings next year. That’s seven of the 15 justices comprising the SC en banc.
But Carpio’s testimony would certainly carry a lot of weight. He is perceived to be Sereno’s ally based on nearly identical position they have taken in high profile cases.
The news that Carpio is now willing to testify against Sereno must have come as a shock to the camp of the Chief Justice, in the same way Julius Caesar had when his friend Brutus joined his assassins and stabbed him to his death on the Ides of March in Rome.
Before dying, Caesar was supposed to have uttered,”Et tu Brutus? (You too, Brutus?).Sereno’s camp must be saying, “Et tu Carpio?”
Carpio is the most senior SC justice in terms of tenure. In fact he was the strongest contender against for the position of Chief Justice when it was vacated in 2010 but President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo chose Renato Corona over him.
Again, when Corona was impeached, Carpio would have been a shoo in to the same post if the selection is based on seniority. But for the second time he was bypassed as then Pres. Benigno Aquino III appointed Sereno, who was the most junior among the sitting justices at that time.
It appears that while Carpio had backed Sereno in many instances, he also got fed up with the way Sereno was treating the court like her own empire, as the testimony of the first four justices indicated.
Carpio had sought investigation into an alleged anomaly in Sereno’s hring of an IT consultant. This is among the charges lawyer Lorenzo Gadon raised in his impeachment complaint against Sereno.
To date, Sereno insists on her innocence and refuses to resign. That resolve may dissolve after Carpio’s testimony.