THE spokesman for the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday confirmed a report of The Manila Times that the husband of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had links with the builders of the controversial Torre de Manila, but that he severed ties with the company more than two decades ago.
“The Chief Justice’s husband, Mr. Mario Jose E. Sereno, was connected with Dacon Corporation, a Consunji-owned corporation, but resigned from that company almost 26 years ago, in July 1989,” a Supreme Court statement quoting SC spokesman Theodore Te read.
Te issued the clarification after a court insider told The Manila Times that the Chief Justice and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio seemed to have been “lawyering” for DMCI Homes when the SC deliberated on a petition of the Order of the Knights of Rizal for an injunction to stop the construction of the 46-storey Torre de Manila.
He said Sereno issued the statement to clarify “in the interest of dispelling any further speculation on her capability to rule objectively on a particular pending matter,” but stressed that she did so “pro hac vice” or “only for this instance.”
Te added that under SC Internal Rules, Rule 8, sec. 3(c), any mandatory inhibition arising from membership of a justice with a law firm that acted as counsel ceases within a period of 10 years unless the justice personally handled the matter.
“The supposed connection of the [Chief Justice’s] spouse to a party in a pending case is not a ground for mandatory inhibition; note also that the connection ceased 26 years ago,” he said.
During its session last Tuesday, the SC voted 8-5 to temporarily stop the construction of the high-rise condominium building for purportedly ruining the vista of the Rizal monument in Manila.
Sereno and Carpio were among the five who voted against the issuance of a temporary restraining order on grounds that the decision should have been taken until after oral arguments have been conducted.
The Manila Times also reported that Carpio had engaged in a “shouting match” with Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, who penned the decision.