Jun 062013
After accusing Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno of omitting a recommendation she made in the case of a party-list group, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro once again wrote Sereno this time accusing her of “inaction.”

De Castro, in her letter, belied Sereno’s claim that she did not include a draft temporary restraining order (TRO) when she handed the case of the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens of the Philippines party-list to Sereno’s office for approval.

As standard practice in the Supreme Court, a member-in-charge recommending the issuance of a TRO should include a draft TRO to the Office of the Chief Justice when submitting it for approval.

Sereno earlier wrote De Castro a letter explaining that she had to write her own TRO on the case because De Castro, who handles the case, failed to include a draft TRO when the case was submitted for approval. She claimed all she got from De Castro was a synopsis of the case.

It was Sereno’s TRO that was made public the following day by SC Public Information Chief Theodore Te, in which further party-list proclamation was being stopped.

De Castro, in a response letter to Sereno, insisted that a draft TRO had been submitted to her office.

“I wish to correct a misimpression in your letters… that on May 28, 2013 at 8:05 a.m. what your office received from me was only the synopsis of the above-mentioned cases,” De Castro told Sereno in a two-page letter dated June 5, a copy of which was obtained by reporters.

Reached for comment, Te said he was not aware of such exchanges between Sereno and De Castro.

Deleted recommendation?

De Castro had earlier contested Sereno’s TRO, saying the chief magistrate omitted her recommendation to stop the disqualification of Senior Citizens party-list only and not the party-list proclamation itself.

In her latest letter to Sereno, De Castro said from May 27 to 28, she wrote Sereno three different letters with attachments: a synopsis of the case, a draft of her recommended TRO, and the rollos for the case.

De Castro said at 8:05 a.m. on May 27, she sent Sereno a letter about the case that included the three attachments.

The next day, after learning from Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal that the party-list group had filed “extremely urgent motions to reiterate the issuance of TRO and and/or status quo ante order,” De Castro sent Sereno a revised synopsis and a second version of a draft TRO.

De Castro said the second draft TRO included a “Whereas” clause narrating the new urgent motions filed. She said “the substace of my recommended draft TRO remained the same.”

After submitting the second set of documents, De Castro was once again informed by the Office of the Clerk of Court that the Senior Citizens party-list again filed a supplemental petition to support its original petition seeking to stop its disqualification by the Commission on Elections.

Third letter

“Again, after verifying that you still had not acted on my recommendation, I sent your office at 1:30 p.m. the third version of my draft TRO this time modifying the ‘Whereas’ clauses to include the filing of the supplemental petition,” De Castro said.

De Castro stressed that the substance of her recommendation remained unchanged in the third TRO version.

De Castro sent photocopies of the set of documents, all with a “Received” stamp from Sereno’s office and bearing the date and time they were delivered.

“I trust this will enlighten you on the real circumstances that occurred on May 28, 2013 while you were out of your office,” she wrote Sereno.

In a full court session on Wednesday, the magistrates ruled on the matter and decided to issue a status quo ante order against Comelec’s resolution disqualifying the Senior Citizens party-list.

The first time De Castro wrote Sereno a letter to complain about one of the latter’s orders was in December last year, when De Castro accused the chief justice of ordering the reopening of a judicial office in the Visayas and made it appear it had the go-signal of the full court when it did not. — KBK, GMA News

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