Record Holder?

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OUSTED Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is already a record-holder of sorts, but she might be on the way again to the record books that may be hard to eclipse.

That’s because nobody in his right mind would want to do so.

Sereno first became a record holder by becoming the first woman to head the judiciary when she was appointed Chief Justice by President Noynoy Aquino on Aug. 24, 2012.

On May 11, 2018, she made another first—the first Chief Justice to be ousted via a quo warranto, when the Supreme Court voted -8-6 to kick her out of office for unlawfully holding her office.

Buried amid the din of reactions—both from pro and anti-Sereno camps–is another looming historical event: the possibility a former Chief Justice would be disbarred.

Aside from voting her out of office, the SC ordered Sereno to show cause within 10 days from receipt of the ruling why she should not be sanctioned for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Code of Judicial Conduct for transgressing the sub-judice rule.

The sub-judice rule prohibits any public comments or disclosure pertaining to pending judicial proceedings.

But the SC cited at least 10 speaking engagements of Sereno where she not only commented on the merits of the pending quo warranto petition against her but also accused several of her SC colleagues of bias against her.

The SC ruling stressed that “she may be held liable for disbarment” because of such actions.

“This wrongful actuation exemplify a poor regard for the judicial system and may amount to conduct unbecoming of a justice and a lawyer,” the SC said.

Worse, the SC said Sereno’s speeches “resulted to the obfuscation of the issues on hand, camouflaging the charges against her with assaults to judicial independence and falsely conditioning the public’s mind that this is a fight for democracy.”

In fact one of the dissenters who was seen as Sereno defender—Associate Justice Marvic Leonen—castigated her for her actions.

Leonen said the Chief Justice “should have the broadest equanimity, to have an open mind, and to show leadership by being the first to defend her Court against underserved, speculative, callous, ad hominem, and irrelevant attacks on their personal reputation.”

He pointed out that Sereno should have been “at the forefront to defend the Court against unfounded speculation and attacks.”

“Unfortunately, in her campaign for victory in this case, her speeches may have goaded the public to do so and without remorse,” Leonen said.

Now, unless she can convince the SC that she is within her rights to say the things she said against the high court and its members, Sereno may soon earn another dubious distinction: the first disbarred Chief Justice.

p: wjg

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