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REPUBLIC of the PHILIPPINES, represented From 1986 to 2006, Sereno served as a JBC directed the applicants to submit

by SOLICITOR GENERAL JOSE C. CALIDA v. member of the faculty of the University of documents, among which are “all previous
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO, the Philippines-College of Law. While SALNs up to December 31, 2011” for those
being employed at the UP Law, or from in the government and “SALN as of
G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018 [J. Tijam, October 2003 to 2006, Sereno was December 31, 2011” for those from the
En Banc] concurrently employed as legal counsel of private sector. The JBC announcement
DOCTRINE OF THE CASE: the Republic in two international further provided that “applicants with
arbitrations known as the PIATCO cases, incomplete or out-of-date documentary
Quo warranto as a remedy to oust an and a Deputy Commissioner of the requirements will not be interviewed or
ineligible public official may be availed of Commissioner on Human Rights. considered for nomination.” Sereno
when the subject act or omission was expressed in a letter to JBC that since she
committed prior to or at the time of The Human Resources Development Office resigned from UP Law on 2006 and
appointment or election relating to an of UP (UP HRDO) certified that there was became a private practitioner, she was
official’s qualifications to hold office as to no record on Sereno’s file of any treated as coming from the private sector
render such appointment or election permission to engage in limited practice of and only submitted three (3) SALNs or her
invalid. Acts or omissions, even if it relates profession. Moreover, out of her 20 years SALNs from the time she became an
to the qualification of integrity being a of employment, only nine (9) Statement of Associate Justice. Sereno likewise added
continuing requirement but nonetheless Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) that “considering that most of her
committed during the incumbency of a were on the records of UP HRDO. In a government records in the academe are
validly appointed and/or validly elected manifestation, she attached a copy of a more than 15 years old, it is reasonable to
official cannot be the subject of a quo tenth SALN, which she supposedly sourced consider it infeasible to retrieve all of
warranto proceeding, but of impeachment from the “filing cabinets” or “drawers of those files,” and that the clearance issued
if the public official concerned is UP”. The Ombudsman likewise had no by UP HRDO and CSC should be taken in
impeachable and the act or omission record of any SALN filed by Sereno. The
her favor. There was no record that the
constitutes an impeachable offense, or to JBC has certified to the existence of one letter was deliberated upon. Despite this,
disciplinary, administrative or criminal SALN. In sum, for 20 years of service, 11 on a report to the JBC, Sereno was said to
action, if otherwise. SALNs were recovered. have “complete requirements.” On August
On August 2010, Sereno was appointed as 2012, Sereno was appointed Chief Justice.
FACTS:
Associate Justice. On 2012, the position of
Chief Justice was declared vacant, and the
On August 2017, an impeachment of the SC and to oust and altogether OSG contends that it is seasonably filed
complaint was filed by Atty. Larry Gadon exclude Sereno therefrom. within the one-year reglementary period
against Sereno, alleging that Sereno failed under Section 11, Rule 66 since Sereno’s
to make truthful declarations in her SALNs. Capistrano, Sen. De Lima, Sen. Trillianes, transgressions only came to light during
The House of Representatives proceeded et. al., intervened. Sereno then filed a the impeachment proceedings. Moreover,
to hear the case for determination of Motion for Inhibition against AJ Bersamin, OSG claims that it has an imprescriptible
probable cause, and it was said that Peralta, Jardeleza, Tijam, and Leonardo-De right to bring a quo warranto petition
Castro, imputing actual bias for having
Justice Peralta, the chairman of the JBC under the maxim nullum tempus occurit
then, was not made aware of the testified against her on the impeachment regi (“no time runs against the king”) or
incomplete SALNs of Sereno. Other hearing before the House of prescription does not operate against the
findings were made: such as pieces of Representatives. government. The State has a continuous
jewelry amounting to P15,000, that were Contentions: interest in ensuring that those who
not declared on her 1990 SALN, but was partake of its sovereign powers are
declared in prior years’ and subsequent Office of the Solicitor General (petitioner): qualified. Even assuming that the one-year
years’ SALNs, failure of her husband to period is applicable to the OSG,
OSG argues that the quo warranto is an
sign one SALN, execution of the 1998 SALN considering that SALNs are not published,
available remedy because what is being
only in 2003 the OSG will have no other means by
sought is to question the validity of her
which to know the disqualification.
On February 2018, Atty. Eligio Mallari appointment, while the impeachment
wrote to the OSG, requesting that the complaint accuses her of committing Moreover, OSG maintains that the SC has
latter, in representation of the Republic, culpable violation of the Constitution and jurisdiction, citing A.M. No. 10-4-20-SC
initiate a quo warranto proceeding against betrayal of public trust while in office, which created a permanent Committee on
Sereno. The OSG, invoking the Court’s citing Funa v. Chairman Villar, Estrada v. Ethics and Ethical Standards, tasked to
original jurisdiction under Section 5(1), Desierto and Nacionalista Party v. De Vera. investigate complaints involving graft and
Article VIII of the Constitution in relation OSG maintains that the phrase “may be corruption and ethical violations against
to the special civil action under Rule 66, removed from office” in Section 2, Article members of the SC and contending that
the Republic, through the OSG filed the XI of the Constitution means that this is not a political question because
petition for the issuance of the Members of the SC may be removed such issue may be resolved through the
extraordinary writ of quo warranto to through modes other than impeachment. interpretation of the provisions of the
declare as void Sereno’s appointment as CJ
Constitution, laws, JBC rules, and Canons of the Constitution, and Mayor Lecaroz v. power to be the “sole judge” of all
of Judicial Ethics. Sandiganbayan, Cuenca v. Hon. Fernan, In contests relating to the qualifications of
Re: First lndorsement from Hon. Gonzales, the President and the Vice-President.
OSG seeks to oust Sereno from her and Re: Complaint-Affidavit for There is no such provision for other
position as CJ on the ground that Sereno Disbarment Against SAJ Antonio T. Carpio. impeachable officers. Moreover, on the
failed to show that she is a person of Sereno contends that the clear intention rest of the cases cited by the OSG, there is
proven integrity which is an indispensable of the framers of the Constitution was to no mention that quo warranto may be
qualification for membership in the
create an exclusive category of public allowed.
Judiciary under Section 7(3), Article VIII of officers who can be removed only by
the Constitution. According to the OSG, impeachment and not otherwise. Sereno also argues that since a petition for
because OSG failed to fulfill the JBC Impeachment was chosen as the method quo warranto may be filed before the RTC,
requirement of filing the complete SALNs, of removing certain high-ranking such would result to a conundrum because
her integrity remains unproven. The government officers to shield them from a judge of lower court would have
failure to submit her SALN, which is a legal harassment suits that will prevent them effectively exercised disciplinary power
obligation, should have disqualified Sereno from performing their functions which are and administrative supervision over an
from being a candidate; therefore, she has vital to the continued operations of official of the Judiciary much higher in rank
no right to hold the office. Good faith government. Sereno further argues that and is contrary to Sections 6 and 11,
cannot be considered as a defense since the word “may” on Section 2 of Article XI Article VIII of the Constitution which vests
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act only qualifies the penalty imposable after upon the SC disciplinary and
(RA No. 3019) and Code of Conduct and the impeachment trial, i.e., removal from administrative power over all courts and
Ethical Standards for Public Officials and office. Sereno contends that the since the the personnel thereof.
Employees (RA No. 6713) are special laws mode is wrong, the SC has no jurisdiction. Sereno likewise posits that if a Member of
and are thus governed by the concept of
malum prohibitum, wherein malice or Sereno likewise argues that the cases cited the SC can be ousted through quo
criminal intent is completely immaterial. by OSG is not in all fours with the present warranto initiated by the OSG, the
Congress’ “check” on the SC through
case because the President and the Vice
Sereno (respondent): President may, in fact, be removed by impeachment would be rendered inutile.

Sereno contends that an impeachable means other than impeachment on the Furthermore, Sereno argues that it is
officer may only be ousted through basis of Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 already time-barred. Section 11, Rule 66
impeachment, citing Section 2 of Article XI Constitution vesting in the Court the provides that a petition for quo warranto
must be filed within one (1) year from the qualified for the post fell upon the JBC. impeachment complaint has already been
“cause of ouster” and not from the Moreover, submission of SALNs is not a filed with the House of Representatives.
“discovery” of the disqualification. constitutional requirement; what is only
required is the imprimatur of the JBC. The Whether Sereno, who is an impeachable
Moreover, Sereno contends that the Court intervenors likewise contend that officer, can be the respondent in a quo
cannot presume that she failed to file her “qualifications” such as citizenship, age, warranto proceeding, i.e., whether the
SALNs because as a public officer, she and experience are enforceable while only way to remove an impeachable
enjoys the presumption that her officer is impeachment.
“characteristics” such as competence,
appointment to office was regular. OSG integrity, probity, and independence are
failed to overcome the presumption Whether to take cognizance of the quo
mere subjective considerations. warranto proceeding is violative of the
created by the certifications from UP
HRDO that she had been cleared of all ISSUES: principle of separation of powers
administrative responsibilities and Whether the petition is outrightly
charges. Her integrity is a political Preliminary issues:
dismissible on the ground of prescription
question which can only be decided by the Whether the Court should entertain the
JBC and the President. motion for intervention Whether the determination of a
candidate’s eligibility for nomination is
Regarding her missing SALNs, Sereno Whether the Court should grant the the sole and exclusive function of the JBC
contends that the fact that SALNs are motion for the inhibition of Sereno and whether such determination.
missing cannot give rise to the inference against five Justices partakes of the character of a political
that they are not filed. The fact that 11 question outside the Court’s supervisory
SALNs were filed should give an inference Main Issues: and review powers;
to a pattern of filing, not of non-filing.
Whether the Court can assume
Whether the filing of SALN is a
Intervenors’ arguments: jurisdiction and give due course to the constitutional and statutory requirement
instant petition for quo warranto. for the position of Chief Justice.
The intervenors argue that it is not
incumbent upon Sereno to prove to the Whether Sereno may be the respondent If answer to ninth issue is in the
JBC that she possessed the integrity in a quo warranto proceeding affirmative, whether Sereno failed to file
required by the Constitution; rather, the notwithstanding the fact that an her SALNs as mandated by the
onus of determining whether or not she
Constitution and required by the law and Intervention is a remedy by which a third are viewed as a public question of
its implementing rules and regulations party, not originally impleaded in the governmental legitimacy and not merely a
proceedings, becomes a litigant therein for private quarrel among rival claimants.
If answer to ninth issue is in the a certain purpose: to enable the third
affirmative, whether Sereno filed SALNs party to protect or preserve a right or Anent the second issue: There is no basis
are not filed properly and promptly. interest that may be affected by those for the Associate Justices of the Supreme
proceedings. The remedy of intervention is Court to inhibit in the case.
Whether Sereno failed to comply with the
submission of SALNs as required by the not a matter of right but rests on the It is true that a judge has both the duty of
JBC sound discretion of the court upon rendering a just decision and the duty of
compliance with the first requirement on doing it in a manner completely free from
If answer to the twelfth issue is in the legal interest and the second requirement suspicion as to its fairness and as to his
affirmative, whether the failure to submit that no delay and prejudice should result. integrity. However, the right of a party to
SALNs to the JBC voids the nomination The justification of one’s “sense of seek the inhibition or disqualification of a
and appointment of Sereno as Chief patriotism and their common desire to judge who does not appear to be wholly
Justice; protect and uphold the Philippine free, disinterested, impartial and
Constitution”, and that of the Senator De independent in handling the case must be
In case of a finding that Sereno is
Lima’s and Trillanes’ intervention that balanced with the latter’s sacred duty to
ineligible to hold the position of Chief
their would-be participation in the decide cases without fear of repression.
Justice, whether the subsequent
impeachment trial as Senators-judges if Bias must be proven with clear and
nomination by the JBC and the
the articles of impeachment will be filed convincing evidence. Those justices who
appointment by the President cured such
before the Senate as the impeachment were present at the impeachment
ineligibility.
court will be taken away is not sufficient. proceedings were armed with the
Whether Sereno is a de jure or a de facto The interest contemplated by law must be requisite imprimatur of the Court En Banc,
officer. actual, substantial, material, direct and given that the Members are to testify only
immediate, and not simply contingent or on matters within their personal
HELD: expectant. Moreover, the petition of quo knowledge. The mere imputation of bias
warranto is brought in the name of the or partiality is not enough ground for
Anent the first issue: The intervention is
Republic. It is vested in the people, and inhibition, especially when the charge is
improper.
not in any private individual or group, without basis. There must be acts or
because disputes over title to public office conduct clearly indicative of arbitrariness
or prejudice before it can brand them with Anent the third issue: A quo warranto controversies. This constitutional duty
the stigma of bias or partiality. Sereno’s petition is allowed against impeachable cannot be abdicated or transferred in
call for inhibition has been based on officials and SC has jurisdiction. favor of, or in deference to, any other
speculations, or on distortions of the branch of the government including the
language, context and meaning of the The SC have concurrent jurisdiction with Congress, even as it acts as an
answers the Justices may have given as the CA and RTC to issue the extraordinary impeachment court through the Senate.
sworn witnesses in the proceedings before writs, including quo warranto. A direct
invocation of the SC’s original jurisdiction To differentiate from impeachment, quo
the House.
to issue such writs is allowed when there warranto involves a judicial determination
Moreover, insinuations that the Justices of are special and important reasons of the eligibility or validity of the election
the SC are towing the line of President therefor, and in this case, direct resort to or appointment of a public official based
Duterte in entertaining the quo warranto SC is justified considering that the action is on predetermined rules while
petition must be struck for being directed against the Chief Justice. Granting impeachment is a political process to
unfounded and for sowing seeds of that the petition is likewise of vindicate the violation of the public’s trust.
mistrust and discordance between the transcendental importance and has far- In quo warranto proceedings referring to
Court and the public. The Members of the reaching implications, the Court is offices filled by appointment, what is
Court are beholden to no one, except to empowered to exercise its power of determined is the legality of the
the sovereign Filipino people who judicial review. To exercise restraint in appointment. The title to a public office
ordained and promulgated the reviewing an impeachable officer’s may not be contested collaterally but only
Constitution. It is thus inappropriate to appointment is a clear renunciation of a directly, by quo warranto proceedings.
misrepresent that the SolGen who has judicial duty. an outright dismissal of the Usurpation of a public office is treated as a
supposedly met consistent litigation petition based on speculation that Sereno public wrong and carries with it public
success before the SG shall likewise will eventually be tried on impeachment is interest, and as such, it shall be
automatically and positively be received in a clear abdication of the Court’s duty to commenced by a verified petition brought
the present quo warranto action. As a settle actual controversy squarely in the name of the Republic of the
collegial body, the Supreme Court presented before it. Quo warranto Philippines through the Solicitor General
adjudicates without fear or favor. The best proceedings are essentially judicial in or a public prosecutor. The SolGen is given
person to determine the propriety of character – it calls for the exercise of the permissible latitude within his legal
sitting in a case rests with the magistrate Supreme Court’s constitutional duty and authority in actions for quo warranto,
sought to be disqualified. power to decide cases and settle actual circumscribed only by the national interest
and the government policy on the matter warranto proceedings is the determination Lastly, there can be no forum shopping
at hand. of whether or not Sereno legally holds the because the impeachment proceedings
Chief Justice position to be considered as before the House is not the impeachment
Anent the fourth issue: Simultaneous quo an impeachable officer in the first place. case proper, since it is only a
warranto proceeding and impeachment On the other hand, impeachment is for determination of probable cause. The
proceeding is not forum shopping and is respondent’s prosecution for certain impeachment case is yet to be initiated by
allowed. impeachable offenses. Simply put, while the filing of the Articles of Impeachment
Quo warranto and impeachment may Sereno’s title to hold a public office is the before the Senate. Thus, at the moment,
proceed independently of each other as issue in quo warranto proceedings, there is no pending impeachment case
these remedies are distinct as to (1) impeachment necessarily presupposes against Sereno. The process before the
jurisdiction (2) grounds, (3) applicable that Sereno legally holds the public office House is merely inquisitorial and is merely
rules pertaining to initiation, filing and and thus, is an impeachable officer, the a means of discovering if a person may be
dismissal, and (4) limitations. Forum only issue being whether or not she reasonably charged with a crime.
shopping is the act of a litigant who committed impeachable offenses to
Anent the fifth issue: Impeachment is not
repetitively availed of several judicial warrant her removal from office.
an exclusive remedy by which an invalidly
remedies in different courts,
Moreover, the reliefs sought are different. appointed or invalidly elected
simultaneously or successively, all A respondent in a quo warranto impeachable official may be removed from
substantially founded on the same proceeding shall be adjudged to cease office.
transactions and the same essential facts from holding a public office, which he/she
and circumstances, and all raising is ineligible to hold. Moreover, The language of Section 2, Article XI of the
substantially the same issues, either impeachment, a conviction for the charges Constitution does not foreclose a quo
pending in or already resolved adversely warranto action against impeachable
of impeachable offenses shall result to the
by some other court, to increase his removal of the respondent from the public officers: “Section 2. The President, the
chances of obtaining a favorable decision office that he/she is legally holding. It is Vice-President, the Members of the
if not in one court, then in another. The Supreme Court, the Members of the
not legally possible to impeach or remove
test for determining forum shopping is a person from an office that he/she, in the Constitutional Commissions, and the
whether in the two (or more) cases first place, does not and cannot legally Ombudsman may be removed from office
pending, there is identity of parties, rights on impeachment for, and conviction of,
hold or occupy.
or causes of action, and reliefs sought. The culpable violation of the Constitution,
crux of the controversy in this quo treason, bribery, graft and corruption,
other high crimes, or betrayal of public Further, that the enumeration of warranto petition is not violative of the
trust.” The provision uses the permissive “impeachable offenses” is made absolute, doctrine of separation of powers.
term “may” which denote discretion and that is, only those enumerated offenses
cannot be construed as having a are treated as grounds for impeachment, The Court’s assumption of jurisdiction over
mandatory effect, indicative of a mere is not equivalent to saying that the an action for quo warranto involving a
possibility, an opportunity, or an option. In enumeration likewise purport to be a person who would otherwise be an
American jurisprudence, it has been held complete statement of the causes of impeachable official had it not been for a
disqualification, is not violative of the core
that “the express provision for removal by removal from office. If other causes of
impeachment ought not to be taken as a removal are available, then other modes constitutional provision that impeachment
tacit prohibition of removal by other of ouster can likewise be availed. To cases shall be exclusively tried and decided
methods when there are other adequate subscribe to the view that appointments by the Senate. Again, the difference
reasons to account for this express or election of impeachable officers are between quo warranto and impeachment
outside judicial review is to cleanse their must be emphasized. An action for quo
provision.”
appointments or election of any possible warranto does not try a person’s
The principle in case law is that during defect pertaining to the Constitutionally- culpability of an impeachment offense,
their incumbency, impeachable officers prescribed qualifications which cannot neither does a writ of quo warranto
cannot be criminally prosecuted for an otherwise be raised in an impeachment conclusively pronounce such culpability.
offense that carries with it the penalty of proceeding. To hold otherwise is to allow The Court’s exercise of its jurisdiction over
removal, and if they are required to be an absurd situation where the quo warranto proceedings does not
members of the Philippine Bar to qualify appointment of an impeachable officer preclude Congress from enforcing its own
for their positions, they cannot be charged cannot be questioned even when, for prerogative of determining probable cause
with disbarment. The proscription does instance, he or she has been determined for impeachment, to craft and transmit
not extend to actions assailing the public to be of foreign nationality or, in offices the Articles of Impeachment, nor will it
officer’s title or right to the office he or preclude Senate from exercising its
where Bar membership is a qualification,
she occupies. Even the PET Rules expressly when he or she fraudulently represented constitutionally committed power of
provide for the remedy of either an to be a member of the Bar. impeachment.
election protest or a petition for quo
warranto to question the eligibility of the Anent the sixth issue: The Supreme Court’s However, logic, common sense, reason,
President and the Vice-President, both of exercise of its jurisdiction over a quo practicality and even principles of plain
whom are impeachable officers. arithmetic bear out the conclusion that an
unqualified public official should be
removed from the position immediately if validly appointed and/or validly elected person holding the highest position in the
indeed Constitutional and legal official, cannot be the subject of a quo Judiciary.
requirements were not met or breached. warranto proceeding, but of something
To abdicate from resolving a legal else, which may either be impeachment if Section 2 of Rule 66 provides that “the
controversy simply because of perceived the public official concerned is Solicitor General or a public prosecutor,
availability of another remedy, in this case impeachable and the act or omission when directed by the President of the
impeachment, would be to sanction the constitutes an impeachable offense, or Philippines, or when upon complaint or
otherwise he has good reason to believe
initiation of a process specifically intended disciplinary, administrative or criminal
to be long and arduous and compel the that any case specified in the preceding
action, if otherwise.
entire membership of the Legislative section can be established by proof must
branch to momentarily abandon their Anent the seventh issue: Prescription does commence such action.” It may be stated
legislative duties to focus on impeachment not lie against the State. that ordinary statutes of limitation, civil or
proceedings for the possible removal of a penal, have no application to quo
The rules on quo warranto provides that warranto proceeding brought to enforce a
public official, who at the outset, may “nothing contained in this Rule shall be
clearly be unqualified under existing laws public right. There is no limitation or
construed to authorize an action against a prescription of action in an action for quo
and case law. public officer or employee for his ouster
warranto, neither could there be, for the
For guidance, the Court demarcates that from office unless the same be reason that it was an action by the
an act or omission committed prior to or commenced within one (1) year after the Government and prescription could not be
at the time of appointment or election cause of such ouster, or the right of the plead as a defense to an action by the
relating to an official’s qualifications to petitioner to hold such office or position, Government.
hold office as to render such appointment arose”. Previously, the one-year
prescriptive period has been applied in That prescription does not lie in this case
or election invalid is properly the subject
of a quo warranto petition, provided that cases where private individuals asserting can also be deduced from the very
the requisites for the commencement their right of office, unlike the instant case purpose of an action for quo warranto.
where no private individual claims title to Because quo warranto serves to end a
thereof are present. Contrariwise, acts or
omissions, even if it relates to the the Office of the Chief Justice. Instead, it is continuous usurpation, no statute of
qualification of integrity, being a the government itself which commenced limitations applies to the action. Needless
continuing requirement but nonetheless the present petition for quo warranto and to say, no prudent and just court would
committed during the incumbency of a puts in issue the qualification of the allow an unqualified person to hold public
office, much more the highest position in
the Judiciary. Moreover, the Republic automatically equivalent to an exercise of Code of Judicial Conduct and the Code of
cannot be faulted for questioning Sereno’s policy decision as to place, in wholesale, Professional Responsibility. The Court has
qualification· for office only upon the JBC process beyond the scope of the always viewed integrity with a goal of
discovery of the cause of ouster because Court’s supervisory and corrective powers. preserving the confidence of the litigants
even up to the present, Sereno has not While a certain leeway must be given to in the Judiciary. Hence, the JBC was
been candid on whether she filed the the JBC in screening aspiring magistrates, created in order to ensure that a member
required SALNs or not. The defect on the same does not give it an unbridled of the Supreme Court must be a person of
Sereno’s appointment was therefore not discretion to ignore Constitutional and provencompetence, integrity, probity, and
discernible, but was, on the contrary, legal requirements. Thus, the nomination independence.
deliberately rendered obscure. by the JBC is not accurately an exercise of
policy or wisdom as to place the JBC’s Anent the ninth issue: The filing of SALN is
Anent the eighth issue: The Court has actions in the same category as political a constitutional and statutory
supervisory authority over the JBC questions that the Court is barred from requirement.
includes ensuring that the JBC complies resolving. Section 17, Article XI of the Constitution
with its own rules.
[READ: Justice Leonen’s dissenting states that “A public officer or employee
Section 8(1), Article VIII of the Constitution shall, upon assumption of office and as
opinion: Q&A Format]
provides that “A Judicial and Bar Council is often thereafter as may be required by
hereby created under the supervision of With this, it must be emphasized that law, submit a declaration under oath of his
the Supreme Court.” The power of qualifications under the Constitution assets, liabilities, and net worth.” This has
supervision means “overseeing or the cannot be waived or bargained by the JBC, likewise been required by RA 3019 and RA
authority of an officer to see to it that the and one of which is that “a Member of the 6713. “Failure to comply” with the law is a
subordinate officers perform their duties.” Judiciary must be a person of proven violation of law, a “prima facie evidence of
JBC’s absolute autonomy from the Court competence, integrity, probity, and unexplained wealth, which may result in
as to place its non-action or improper· independence. “Integrity” is closely the dismissal from service of the public
actions beyond the latter’s reach is related to, or if not, approximately officer.” It is a clear breach of the ethical
therefore not what the Constitution equated to an applicant’s good reputation standards set for public officials and
contemplates. What is more, the JBC’s for honesty, incorruptibility, employees. The filing of the SALN is so
duty to recommend or nominate, although irreproachable conduct, and fidelity to important for purposes of transparency
calling for the exercise of discretion, is sound moral and ethical standards.” and accountability that failure to comply
neither absolute nor unlimited, and is not Integrity is likewise imposed by the New with such requirement may result not only
in dismissal from the public service but Noncompliance with the SALN personnel of the branch of the court that
also in criminal liability. Section 11 of R.A. requirement indubitably reflects on a the missing SALN exists and was duly
No. 6713 even provides that non- person’s integrity. It is not merely a trivial transmitted and received by the OCA as
compliance with this requirement is not or a formal requirement. The contention the repository agency. In Sereno’s case,
only punishable by imprisonment and/or a that the mere non-filing does not affect the missing SALNs are neither proven to
fine, it may also result in disqualification to Sereno’s integrity does not persuade be in the records of nor was proven to
hold public office. considering that RA 6713 and RA 3019 are have been sent to and duly received by the
malum prohibitum and not malum in se. Ombudsman as the repository agency. The
Because the Chief Justice is a public Thus, it is the omission or commission of existence of these SALNs and the fact of
officer, she is constitutionally and that act as defined by the law, and not the filing thereof were neither established by
statutorily mandated to perform a positive character or effect thereof, that direct proof constituting substantial
duty to disclose all of his assets and determines whether or not the provision evidence nor by mere inference.
liabilities. According to Sereno herself in has been violated. Malice or criminal Moreover, the statement of the
her dissenting opinion in one case, those intent is completely immaterial. Ombudsman is categorical: “based on
who accept a public office do so cum records on file, there is no SALN filed by
onere, or with a burden, and are Anent the tenth issue: Sereno chronically [Sereno] for calendar years 1999 to 2009
considered as accepting its burdens and failed to file her SALNs and thus violated except SALN ending December 1998.” This
obligations, together with its benefits. the Constitution, the law, and the Code of leads the Court to conclude that Sereno
They thereby subject themselves to all Judicial Conduct. did not indeed file her SALN.
constitutional and legislative provisions
relating thereto, and undertake to In Sereno’s 20 years of government service For this reason, the Republic was able to
perform all the duties of their office. The in UP Law, only 11 SALNs have been filed. discharge its burden of proof with the
Sereno could have easily dispelled doubts
public has the right to demand the certification from UP HRDO and
performance of those duties. More as to the filing or nonfiling of the Ombudsman, and thus it becomes
importantly, while every office in the unaccounted SALNs by presenting them incumbent upon Sereno to discharge her
before the Court. Yet, Sereno opted to
government service is a public trust, no burden of evidence. Further, the burden of
position exacts a greater demand on moral withhold such information or such proof in a quo warranto proceeding is
righteousness and uprightness of an evidence, if at all, for no clear reason. The different when it is filed by the State in
Doblada case, invoked by Sereno, cannot that the burden rests upon the
individual than a seat in the Judiciary.
be applied, because in the Doblada case, respondent.
there was a letter of the head of the
In addition, contrary to what Sereno of her academic and administrative again in violation of the Constitutional and
contends, being on leave does not exempt responsibilities, money and property statutory requirements .
her from filing her SALN because it is not accountabilities and from administrative
tantamount to separation from Failure to file a truthful, complete and
charges as of the date of her resignation.
government service. The fact that Sereno accurate SALN would likewise amount to
did not receive any pay for the periods she Neither can Sereno’s inclusion in the dishonesty if the same is attended by
was on leave does not make her a matrix of candidates with complete malicious intent to conceal the truth or to
requirements and in the shortlist make false statements. The suspicious
government worker “serving in an
honorary capacity” to be exempted from nominated by the JBC confirm or ratify her circumstances include: 1996 SALN being
the SALN laws on RA 6713. compliance with the SALN requirement. accomplished only in 1998; 1998 SALN
Her inclusion in the shortlist of candidates only filed in 2003; 1997 SALN only
Neither can the clearance and certification for the position of Chief Justice does not notarized in 1993; 2004-2006 SALNs were
of UP HRDO be taken in favor of Sereno. negate, nor supply her with the requisite not filed which were the years when she
During the period when Sereno was a proof of integrity. She should have been received the bulk of her fees from PIATCO
professor in UP, concerned authorized disqualified at the outset. Moreover, the cases, 2006 SALN was later on intended to
official/s of the Office of the President or JBC En Banc cannot be deemed to have be for 2010, gross amount from PIATCO
the Ombudsman had not yet established considered Sereno eligible because it does cases were not reflected, suspicious
compliance procedures for the review of not appear that Sereno’s failure to submit increase of P2,700,000 in personal
SALNs filed by officials and employees of her SALNs was squarely addressed by the properties were seen in her first five
State Colleges and Universities, like U.P. body. Her inclusion in the shortlist of months as Associate Justice. It is therefore
The ministerial duty of the head of office nominees and subsequent appointment to clear as day that Sereno failed not only in
to issue compliance order came about only the position do not estop the Republic or complying with the physical act of filing,
on 2006 from the CSC. As such, the U.P. this Court from looking into her but also committed dishonesty betraying
HRDO could not have been expected to qualifications. Verily, no estoppel arises her lack of integrity, honesty and probity.
perform its ministerial duty of issuing where the representation or conduct of The Court does not hesitate to impose the
compliance orders to Sereno when such the party sought to be estopped is due to supreme penalty of dismissal against
rule was not yet in existence at that time. ignorance founded upon an innocent public officials whose SALNs were found to
Moreover, the clearance are not mistake have contained discrepancies,
substitutes for SALNs. The import of said inconsistencies and non-disclosures.
clearance is limited only to clearing Sereno Anent the eleventh issue: Sereno failed to
properly and promptly file her SALNs,
Anent the twelfth issue: Sereno failed to her of all academic and administrative the JBC should no longer have considered
submit the required SALNs as to qualify for responsibilities and charges. Sereno for interview.
nomination pursuant to the JBC rules.
These justifications, however, did not Moreover, the fact that Sereno had no
The JBC required the submission of at least obliterate the simple fact that Sereno permit to engage in private practice while
ten SALNs from those applicants who are submitted only 3 SALNs to the JBC in her in UP, her false representations that she
incumbent Associate Justices, absent 20-year service in U.P., and that there was was in private practice after resigning from
which, the applicant ought not to have nary an attempt on Sereno’s part to UP when in fact she was counsel for the
been interviewed, much less been comply. Moreover, Sereno curiously failed government, her false claims that the
considered for nomination. From the to mention that she did not file several clearance from UP HRDO is proof of her
minutes of the meeting of the JBC, it SALNs during the course of her compliance with SALNs requirement, her
appeared that Sereno was singled out employment in U.P. Such failure to commission of tax fraud for failure to
from the rest of the applicants for having disclose a material fact and the truthfully declare her income in her ITRs
failed to submit a single piece of SALN for concealment thereof from the JBC betrays for the years 2007-2009, procured a brand
her years of service in UP Law. It is clear any claim of integrity especially from a new Toyota Land Cruiser worth at least
that JBC did not do away with the SALN Member of the Supreme Court. P5,000,000, caused the hiring of Ms.
requirement, but still required substantial Macasaet without requisite public bidding,
compliance. Subsequently, it appeared Indubitably, Sereno not only failed to misused P3,000,000 of government funds
that it was only Sereno who was not able substantially comply with the submission for hotel accommodation at Shangri-La
to substantially comply with the SALN of the SALNs but there was no compliance Boracay as the venue of the 3rd ASEAN
requirement, and instead of complying, at all. Dishonesty is classified as a grave Chief Justices meeting, issued a TRO in
Sereno wrote a letter containing offense the penalty of which is dismissal Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens
from the service at the first infraction. A
justifications why she should no longer be in the Philippines v. COMELEC contrary to
required to file the SALNs: that she person aspiring to public office must the Supreme Court’s internal rules,
resigned from U.P. in 2006 and then observe honesty, candor and faithful manipulated the disposition of the DOJ
compliance with the law. Nothing less is
resumed government service only in 2009, request to transfer the venue of the
thus her government service is not expected. Dishonesty is a malevolent act Maute cases outside of Mindanao, ignored
continuous; that her government records that puts serious doubt upon one’s ability rulings of the Supreme Court with respect
are more than 15 years old and thus to perform his duties with the integrity to the grant of survivorship benefits which
infeasible to retrieve; and that U.P. cleared and uprightness demanded of a public caused undue delay to the release of
officer or employee. For these reasons,
survivorship benefits to spouses of submit her SALN since the JBC cannot Neither will the President’s act of
deceased judges and Justices, manipulated verify whether the same matches the appointment cause to qualify Sereno.
the processes of the JBC to exclude then entries indicated in the SALN. Although the JBC is an office
SolGen, now AJ Francis Jardeleza, by using constitutionally created, the participation
highly confidential document involving Anent the fourteenth issue: Sereno’s of the President in the selection and
national security against the latter among ineligibility for lack of proven integrity nomination process is evident from the
others, all belie the fact that Sereno has cannot be cured by her nomination and composition of the JBC itself.
subsequent appointment as Chief Justice.
integrity.
An appointment is essentially within the
Anent the thirteenth issue: Sereno’s Well-settled is the rule that qualifications discretionary power of whomsoever it is
failure to submit to the JBC her SALNs for for public office must be possessed at the vested, subject to the only condition that
several years means that her integrity was time of appointment and assumption of the appointee should possess the
not established at the time of her office and also during the officer’s entire qualifications required by law. While the
tenure as a continuing requirement. The Court surrenders discretionary appointing
application
voidance of the JBC nomination as a power to the President, the exercise of
The requirement to submit SALNs is made necessary consequence of the Court’s such discretion is subject to the non-
more emphatic when the applicant is finding that Sereno is ineligible, in the first
negotiable requirements that the
eyeing the position of Chief Justice. On the place, to be a candidate for the position of appointee is qualified and all other legal
June 4, 2012, JBC En Banc meeting, Chief Justice and to be nominated for said requirements are satisfied, in the absence
Senator Escudero proposed the addition of position follows as a matter of course. The of which, the appointment is susceptible
the requirement of SALN in order for the Court has ample jurisdiction to do so to attack.
next Chief Justice to avoid what CJ Corona without the necessity of impleading the
had gone through. Further, the failure to JBC as the Court can take judicial notice of Anent the fifteenth issue: Sereno is a de
submit the required SALNs means that the the explanations from the JBC members facto officer removable through quo
JBC and the public are divested of the and the OEO. The Court, in a quo warranto warranto
opportunity to consider the applicant’s proceeding, maintains the power to issue
fitness or propensity to commit corruption such further judgment determining the The effect of a finding that a person
or dishonesty. In Sereno’s case, for respective rights in and to the public appointed to an office is ineligible therefor
example, the waiver of the confidentiality office, position or franchise of all the is that his presumably valid appointment
of bank deposits would be practically parties to the action as justice requires. will give him color of title that confers on
useless for the years that she failed to him the status of a de facto officer. For
lack of a Constitutional qualification, This Decision is immediately executory
Sereno is ineligible to hold the position of without need of further action from the
Chief Justice and is merely holding a Court.
colorable right or title thereto. As such,
Sereno has never attained the status of an Sereno is ordered to SHOW CAUSE within
impeachable official and her removal from ten (10) days from receipt hereof why she
the office, other than by impeachment, is should not be sanctioned for violating the
Code of Professional Responsibility and
justified. The remedy, therefore, of a quo
warranto at the instance of the State is the Code of Judicial Conduct for
proper to oust Sereno from the appointive transgressing the sub judice rule and for
casting aspersions and ill motives to the
position of Chief Justice.
Members of the Supreme Court.
DISPOSITIVE PORTION:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Quo


Warranto is GRANTED.

Sereno is found DISQUALIFIED from and is


hereby adjudged GUILTY of UNLAWFULLY
HOLDING and EXERCISING the OFFICE OF
THE CHIEF JUSTICE. Accordingly, Sereno is
OUSTED and EXCLUDED therefrom.

The position of the Chief Justice of the


Supreme Court is declared vacant and the
Judicial and Bar Council is directed to
commence the application and
nomination process.