Infighting looms at High CourtJanuary 5, 2014 9:59 pm
BIG trouble could be brewing at the Supreme Court after its most senior member, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, got a scolding from Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno during debates on the petition questioning the legality of the cybercrime law.
An unimpeachable source of The Manila Times said Sereno shouted at Carpio during the Court’s last en banc deliberations in December.
The source said Carpio wanted a more liberal interpretation of the cybercrime law, while Associate Justice Marvic Leonen proposed that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to be given “fangs in penalizing offenders of the law.”
The Court insider said Sereno sided with Leonen, who is her close friend.
The two justices were debating the draft ponencia of Justice Roberto Abad. While Carpio was speaking, Leonen kept butting in.
At this point, Sereno admonished Carpio. “Justice Carpio keep quiet! Justice Leonen has the floor we should listen to him,” the source quoted the Chief Justice.
Sereno’s behavior is said to have shocked the other justices.
“Na-shock kami. Hindi namin akalain sigawan ni Meilou [Sereno’s nickname] si Tony [Carpio]. Walang gumawa kay Carpio ng ganun, si Sereno pa lang nakagawa noon,” the source said. [We were all shocked. We never imagined Meilou to shout at Tony. No one has ever done that to Carpio but Sereno].”
The source recalled that former Chief Justice Renato Corona treated Carpio with respect even if they were not in good terms.
“We knew that Chief Corona and Justice Carpio were at odds because of the chief justiceship issue but they never resorted to shouting matches. They can disagree without being disagreable,” the source said.
He said Carpio managed to keep his cool despite Sereno’s outburst.
“Justice Carpio did not react. He seldom reacts. But to shout at him in an en banc is to insult him,” the source said.
He said the other justices admired Carpio for not fighting back despite the rude treatment he got from Sereno.
A Court insider said they fear that Sereno may have dug her grave because she has officially declared war against Carpio.
Another source believes Carpio will not take the incident sitting down.
“Sereno had better watch out. Carpio may be quiet but he is dangerous. He will get back at her,” the source said.
Carpio is one of the founders of the Carpio Villaraza Cruz Marcelo law office, which is popularly known as “The Firm.” The law office became very powerful and influential in the appointment of several justices and judges, especially during the Arroyo administration.
The Manila Times learned that Sereno’s position was “brokered” by The Firm.
A magistrate said Sereno was introduced to President Benigno Aquino 3rd as the architect of the Philippines’ victory in the Piatco case in Singapore.
“But in truth, Sereno was just a legal researcher in the Piatco case. She was only tapped by her mentor, retired SC Justice Florentino Feliciano, to do the research and make annexes in the documents,” a source said.
Carpio reportedly approved of Sereno as a candidate for associate justice of the Supreme Court and the first appointee of Aquino at the High Court.
Carpio’s former law partner, Avelino “Nonong” Cruz, the lawyer of then Vice Presidential candidate Mar Roxas, allegedly lobbied for Sereno’s appointment.
Sereno was allegedly tasked to fight for Roxas in his election protest before the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, against Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“Sereno was a creation of The Firm, Carpio in particular. Now the tables have been turned. Sereno is the Chief Justice and Carpio is just the number two man in the Supreme Court,” the source added.