Timeline leading up to Sereno’s ouster

Marje Pelayo   •   May 11, 2018   •   6935


Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno


Revisit the events, allegations and hearings that led to the eventual ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

August 15, 2017
Complainants Eligio Mallari and Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed the first the impeachment complaint against of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the House of Representatives.

August 30, 2017
Atty. Larry Gadon filed the second impeachment complaint against Sereno also at the House.

September 13, 2017
The House Justice committee opened the impeachment proceedings against Sereno and determined the impeachment complaint filed by Gadon “sufficient in form and substance” while dismissing the one filed by Jimenez.

January 26, 2018
Gadon again filed a graft complaint against Sereno for alleged non-filing of Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) before the Department of Justice (DoJ).

February 19, 2018
The impeachment hearing against Sereno resumed at the House of Representatives.

February 27, 2018
The Supreme Court en banc forced Sereno to take an indefinite leave of absence starting on March 1, 2018. Her spokesperson, Jojo Lacanilao, in a separate statement said the chief justice has decided to take a 15-day “wellness leave.”

March 1, 2018
Sereno began her indefinite leave of absence.

March 2, 2018
Atty. Oliver Lozano filed a petition to the High Court to invalidate Sereno’s appointment on the ground that the top magistrate failed to comply with mandatory legal requirements. In a speech at a judicial forum at University of Baguio, Sereno rejected calls for her to resign.

March 5, 2018
Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against Sereno before the Supreme Court.

March 6, 2018
The Supreme Court en banc orders Sereno to comment on the quo warranto petition filed against her by the OSG.

March 8, 2018
The justice committee of the House found probable cause to impeach Sereno with a vote of 38-2.

March 14, 2018
The House Committee on Justice deferred its voting on the draft articles of impeachment against Sereno pending finalization.

March 19, 2018
The House panel, voting 33-1, approved articles of impeachment vs. Sereno. The Chief Justice filed her comment on the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

April 3, 2018
The Supreme Court (SC) decided to hold an oral argument on April 10 on the quo warranto petition filed by Calida against Sereno.

April 10, 2018
Sereno faced probing colleagues in a historic first for the Philippine judiciary that a Chief Justice stands at a hearing by her fellow justices.

April 17, 2018
SC set voting on Sereno’s quo warranto case originally on May 17. However, court insiders said the voting was moved to May 11, simultaneous with the submission of the justices separate opinions on the case.

May 10, 2018
Sereno returned to the Supreme Court, ending her month-long wellness leave.

May 11, 2018
The Supreme Court ruled to remove Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice. Voting 8-6, the magistrates granted Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition against Sereno.

It was a moment of historical firsts. It was the first in the Supreme Court’s 117-year history that a chief justice presided over the full court session where she herself was the respondent in a case that was up for deliberation and decision by her colleagues. It was also the first time in the history of the Philippines’ High Tribunal that a chief justice was removed through a quo warranto plea.

— Marje Pelayo | UNTV News and Rescue


NCR courts ordered physically closed until September 30

Marje Pelayo   •   September 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered all courts in the National Capital Region (NCR) closed due to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in the region.

In a circular issued and signed by Court Administrator Midas Marquez, the temporary closure of all NCR courts is also in consideration of the pilot-testing of granular lockdowns after placing all cities in the region, except Manila, under Alert Level 4.

“All courts in NCR, except the Supreme Court, shall remain physically closed to court users until 30 September 2021 notwithstanding the NCR will be under general community quarantine beginning 8 September 2021,” the circular read.

However, the courts in the NCR will continue operating online, the circular said.

This means hearings on pending cases and all other matters may be addressed through videoconferencing so as not to delay the trial of cases and court processes.

Meanwhile, Marquez said the time of filing and service of pleadings and motions during the period of physical closure remains suspended and shall only resume after seven days counted from the first day of reopening of the relevant court.

For inquiries and other matters, all NCR courts may be reached through their respective hotlines and email addresses posted on SC’s official website.

Supreme Court to forgo traditional announcement of top 10 Bar passers

Robie de Guzman   •   August 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court will depart from its tradition of announcing the names of top 10 passers in the 2020-2021 Bar examinations, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said Friday.

Leonen, who chairs the 2020-2021 Bar exams committee, said that instead of announcing the top-notchers, an examinee who obtains an 85 percent or higher weighted score for the upcoming examination shall be recognized for exemplary performance.

In the latest Bar bulletin, the Supreme Court said that the modification of the grading system was one of the reforms proposed by Leonen “to enable a more reasonable approach to appraising and reporting on Bar examination performance.”

It has been a tradition of the high court to name the top notchers simultaneous with the release of successful Bar passers, but with the pandemic, Leonen said they have taken into consideration the circumstances of the two batches that will be taking the exams this November.

“On one hand, those who intended to take the Bar Examinations in 2020 either had more time to review, or endured more time for waiting. The 2021 graduates, on the other hand, had to endure the longer ordeal of preparing to graduate during the pandemic, causing delays in the graduation dates. They have been put in a constrained environment, with only a brief window of time to prepare,” Leonen said.

“Testing two batches of examinees that prepared under different circumstances – not to mention the vast number of combined examinees, placing an enormous demand on the examiners – compels the adoption of unique mechanisms that aim to balance these inequities,” he added.

Leonen also noted that the modifications introduced aim to be “more inclusive” by not limiting recognition to an exclusive circle of top-notchers, adding that “limiting the recognition to a circle of 10 risks being beholden to statistical minutiae.”

He also emphasized that the Bar exams aim to determine whether an individual has the knowledge to be a lawyer.

“The Bar examinations measure individual knowledge. It is no race or competition. Neither will it predict who among the examinees will become the best qualified within their batch, the better lawyer, the more relevant practitioner, or the more compassionate individual,” he said.

“In short, good lawyering requires skill and a view to making choices that match the nobility of the profession and its desire for social justice. This is not entirely measured by the Bar examinations,” he added.

The SC postponed the 2020 Bar examinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upcoming exams will be held in several testing centers across the country in November.

“It is hoped that by shifting the focus away from how to select individuals who excel and onto a school’s collective performance, this will encourage deep-seated and wide-ranging improvements in legal education. Law schools would inspire and aspire for excellence that would uplift their entire studentry, rather than select Bar bets only,” Leonen said

Under the modified grading system, an examinee who obtains a total weighted score of 85 percent or higher for the 2020-2021 Bar Examinations shall be recognized for exemplary performance.

“The names of examinees who earned recognition for exemplary performance shall be made publicly available simultaneously with the list of passers, through the same media. Apart from this, no fanfare shall be devoted in releasing information on examinees who rendered exemplary performance,” Leonen said.

“The names in this list shall be arranged alphabetically, and shall also appear in the list of passers. This list shall replace the traditional Top 10,” he added.

The SC said a report on law schools’ performance will also be released. Law schools having examinees who were recognized for exemplary performance shall also be identified in a separate report.

Statistics on the performance of those who did not pass or did not finish past Bar exams will not be made public, but will be given to the law schools themselves, it added.

SC urges Bar applicants to avail of free vaccination for November exams

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court (SC) is encouraging examinees for the Bar examinations in November to get fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Under Bar Bulletin No. 22, series of 2021, the SC urges approved bar applicants to avail the free vaccination in their respective local government units (LGUs). Bar examinees eligible for vaccination are those included in theA2 (senior citizens), A3 (persons with comorbidities), and A4 (front-liners in essential sectors) priority groups.

“We strongly encourage every bar applicant who fall under the priority groups to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” the SC said.

Meanwhile, the SC is coordinating with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to include applicants who do not fall under the A2, A3, and A4 priority groups. It is also working on the possible procurement of COVID-19 testing kits for bar examinees.

For the health protocols during the Bar examinations on November, the SC said they will release the guidelines by October. AAC



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