Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno is reportedly scheming to appoint her choice for Supreme Court (SC) Clerk of Court for the en banc without passing through the 15-man court.
According to unimpeachable sources of The Manila Times in the high tribunal, Sereno ordered to review the appointments of the previous en banc clerks of court to see if it is possible the next clerk of court can be appointed with going through the 15-man court.
The source said Sereno is eyeing the possibility of the next en banc clerk of court being appointed by her alone or with three chairpersons of the SC Divisions signing the appointment.
The Times learned Sereno disliked the most Senior among the candidates, SC 1st Division Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta since he is allegedly close to the late Chief Justice Renato Corona being his fraternity brother in the Utopia Fraternity of the Ateneo College of Law.
If the three chairpersons of the SC Divisions shall be allowed to sign the appointment, this means that it shall only be signed by Sereno as chairperson of the SC 1st Division, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as chairman of the SC 2nd Division, and Justice Presbitero Velasco as chairperson of the SC 3rd Division.
This is similar to alleged manipulations exposed in the impeachment complainant by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, or the appointments of Brenda Jay Angeles Mendoza as Philippine Judicial Academy Chief of Office for the Philippine Mediation Center and IT Consultant Helen Perez-Macasaet, which were not passed through the SC en banc.
Another instance when Sereno made a manipulation is when she ordered the appointment of Court of Appeals Justice Gabriel Ingles without passing through the en banc. Ingles’ appointment was signed only by the three SC division chairpersons.
The source said Sereno has refused to include in the agenda the voting for the next SC en banc clerk of court.
“Eto na naman siya, mamanipulahin na naman ni Sereno ang appointment ng next en banc clerk of court. Pero this time hindi na siya lulusot [Here she goes again, Sereno is manipulating the appointment of the next en banc clerk of court. But this time her scheming will not succeed],” the high tribunal source told The Times.
SC En Banc Clerk of Court Felipa Borlongan-Anama retired on February 22, 2018. She was supposed to retire in August 2017 upon reaching the retirement age of 65 but her tenure was extended by the magistrates for six months.
The appointment of Anama’s predecessor, Enriqueta Vidal, was voted upon and signed by the SC en banc and not just the three division chairpersons.
Four lawyers of the high tribunal who are all under the three SC divisions are vying for the post. In the voting for Anama’s successor, the candidate who gets the highest number of votes from the 15 high tribunal justices notches the position.
The said position is a vital post with a rank and salary of a Court of Appeals associate justice.
The aspirants for the position are Aricheta, clerk of court of the SC 1st Division, the most senior; Lourdes Perfecto, clerk of court of the SC 2nd Division, who is set to retire next year; Wilfredo Lapitan, clerk of court of the SC 3rd Division; and Teresita Tuason, assistant clerk of court of the SC 2nd Division.
The clerk of court of the en banc shall handle the most controversial cases in the high tribunal, including constitutional issues and cases, dismissal of justices, judges and lawyers, and cases of transcendental importance. Cases of writs of kalikasan, writs of amparo, and habeas data are handled by the clerk of court.