Sereno’s hostile, haughty attitude against her peers makes SC look bad to the public – Associate Justice Martires

Associate Justice Samuel Martires was one of six Supreme Court magistrates whom Chief Justice Ma Lourdes Sereno wanted to inhibit from a quo warranto case seeking her disqualification.

But Martires said this was no reason for Sereno to take an antagonistic and arrogant attitude against him and the other magistrates during the oral argument which she insisted on attending despite reservations of magistrates who believed her presence was unnecessary.

Sereno’s hostile, haughty attitude against her peers makes SC look bad to the public – Martires

Associate Justice Samuel Martires was one of six Supreme Court magistrates whom Chief Justice Ma Lourdes Sereno wanted to inhibit from a quo warranto case seeking her disqualification. But Martires said this was no reason for Sereno to take an antagonistic and arrogant attitude against him and the other magistrates during the oral argument which she insisted on attending despite reservations of magistrates who believed her presence was unnecessary.

“It has not escaped my attention that (Sereno) maintained a hostile stance towards this Court throughout the oral argument held last 10 April 2018. I noted, at the outset, that respondent, instead of focusing on the issues subject of the oral arguments and limiting her responses to the questions thereon, embarked on what, to my mind, amounted to threats of future charges of the same nature (non-filing of SALN),” said Martires in his concurring opinion to the 8-6 SC vote kicking out Sereno for her chronic failure to file a statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

“Alarming also was the condescending manner in which respondent disregarded the questions and inputs raised and offered by Members of this Court. In several instances, she interrupted questions propounded to her, engaged in argument instead of answering directly, and refused to listen to clarifications made to her, prompting Acting Chief Justice Carpio to intervene,” he added.

Martires noted it was disrespectful of Sereno to call Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro by her nickname, “Tess”, during the testy oral argument.

He also found it “disconcerting” for Sereno to spin her appearance in the oral argument as as an imposition of the court when her legal team itself admitted that it was Sereno herself who file the motion to hold an oral argument.

Solicitor General Jose Calida’s request for an oral argument was denied by the SC. During the oral argument, Associate Justice Noel Tijam said it was wrong to hold this kind of spectacle because internal deliberations of the Court should be confidential.

Martires reminded Sereno of her respect the court and judges or “she risks diminishing the public’s respect for the law and the legal processes, as well as the public’s confidence in the courts as bastions of justice.

“Sadly, (Sereno’s) demeanor and conduct fell short of the ethics expected from the highest magistrate of the land and exposed the courts to diminution of public respect when she failed to extend courtesy, fairness, and candor toward her fellow justices during the oral arguments,” he said.

Martires said Sereno’s acts proved that “she lacked this constitutionally mandated quality (integrity) when she assumed office as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and thereafter as Chief Justice.”

He said her character “indicate a propensity to disregard sound ethical standards that compromise integrity, which may be inherent and likely to have existed at the time of her appointment, when respondent made questionable decisions relating to the non-submission and non-filing of her SALNs.”

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