Supreme Court insider says Chief Justice seeking protection post-Aquino
A Supreme Court (SC) insider said Maria Lourdes Sereno is throwing her support behind Sen. Grace Poe to win the presidency as the Chief Justice would need protection from a possible personal ordeal when President Benigno Aquino 3rd steps down from Malacanang in June this year.
According to the highly placed source, Sereno is betting on Poe – perceived as a frontrunner in the May 2016 local and national elections this year – in order to keep her post without any danger of being impeached or threatened over “ghosts” from the past Administration that could haunt her.
She is expected to retire before her 70th birthday on July 2, 2030, unless she is impeached, forced to resign or appointed as ambassador.
Once Poe wins as President in the race to the Palace less than three months from now, Sereno is expected to survive the next Administration or until 2022.
Poe has several pending disqualification cases before the SC on questions of her citizenship and residency.
During recent oral arguments at the High Court, some SC justices observed that Sereno’s statements clearly showed that “she [was]lawyering for Poe.”
The SC source said the Chief Justice will not bet on three other presidential candidates–former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd of the Liberal Party, Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the PDP-Laban.
The insider pointed out that if Roxas won the May 9 elections, Sereno’s post would be in danger since Roxas’ lawyer, former Defense Secretary Avelino “Nonong” Cruz, is a Sigma Rho fraternity brother and former law partner of SC Justice Antonio Carpio at the Carpio Villaraza Cruz Marcelo law office or “The Firm.”
The law office is now divided with the camp of Virgilio “Pancho” Villaraza supposedly feuding with Cruz and former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo.
Cruz was the canvassing lawyer of Roxas during the May 2010 vice-presidential polls, which Binay won.
Carpio’s dream of becoming Chief Justice, according to the source of The Manila Times, has better chances with Roxas, who can support the ouster of Sereno from the High Court.
Another SC source said this dream is the very reason why Carpio is determined to disqualify Poe from this year’s presidential polls.
If Binay wins, the source pointed out, Sereno will be “bad shot” with the Vice President’s camp since she acted as a lawyer for the Office of the Ombudsman in pushing for the ouster last year of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “JunJun” Binay.
“Sereno is in danger with the Binay administration since it is very clear during oral arguments in Baguio City that she [was]lawyering against the Binays. [She got too personal with the Vice Persident and his son JunJun, she even showed it through a powerpoint presentation during the arguments],” the source said.
If Duterte makes it, according to the source, Sereno is still in danger because Carpio can still take a shot at the Chief Justice post.
He explained that Duterte’s daughter, former Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte, is married to lawyer Manases “Mans” Carpio, a son of lawyer Lucas Carpio and Court of Appeals Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio.
Lucas Carpio is a brother of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and their cousin is SC Justice Antonio Carpio.
The SC source said since Sereno is being haunted by her “ghosts,” it is easy to impeach her or ask for her resignation or be transferred to another post by the next administration.
Among the “ghosts” are Sereno failing psychiatric and psychological tests from the Judicial and Bar Council where she got a grade of 4 with 3 as the median; falsifying a resolution when she acted on her own in creating the Regional Court Administration Office in Cebu despite lack of authority by the SC en banc; issuing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in the Senior Citizens party-list case that changed contents of recommendations of ponente Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro; not declaring her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) in her attorney’s fees from the Piatco-NAIA Terminal 3 case, giving rise to the question of whether she committed tax evasion.