Sereno's TRO recommended by Carpio
MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court confirmed Tuesday, October 16, that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno indeed issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that favored a party mate of President Benigno Aquino III, but stressed this was upon the recommendation of another justice in charge of the case.
An SC insider told Rappler that it was Justice Antonio Carpio, the justice in charge of the case, who recommended the TRO to Sereno.
Sereno's TRO last October 12 sparked controversy since she exercised a rarely used power of the Chief Justice that temporarily favored an Aquino ally and member of the ruling Liberal Party. In the TRO, Sereno stopped the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from removing incumbent Imus Mayor Emmanuel "Manny" Maliksi from his post.
Granting a petition filed by Maliksi, Sereno used her sole power to stop the Comelec's first division from enforcing its August 15 decision declaring Maliksi's rival, Homer Saquilayan, as the winner of the 2010 polls in Imus, Cavite. The Comelec ruled that based on a recount, Saquilayan defeated Maliksi by 8,429 votes.
The TRO maintains the status quo pending the Court's final resolution of the case.
Maliksi is seeking re-election in the May 2013 elections. He is the son of Cavite Rep Erineo Maliksi, who is running for governor under the Liberal Party.
"The Court finds it necessary and proper to issue a temporary restraining order to maintain status quo prevailing before the issuance of the assailed Comelec Resolution," Sereno said in her October 12 resolution.
On Tuesday, the SC issued a statement to dispel speculations that Sereno acted on her own.
The TRO was issued by Sereno "in response to and after careful study of the written request of the same date by the Member-in-Charge of the said case, copy of which was furnished the Members (Justices) of the Court," the Court said.
The Court added: "There is no truth at all to allegations that the Chief Justice acted on her own and was influenced by political pressure in issuing the TRO."
Saquilayan's camp said the issuance of the TRO was "irregular" because the SC en banc did not act on the petition and only "noted" it.
In their Tuesday en banc session, the SC confirmed that a TRO was indeed issued. Nine out of the 14 justices were present in the Tuesday session. Justices Antonio Carpio and Jose Perez are on wellness leave, while Justices Arturo Brion and Mariano del Castillo are on personal leave. Justice Bienvenido Reyes is in Geneva on official business.
Saquilayan's camp said that even if the TRO was recommended by the justice handling the case, it "failed to truly enlighten the people as to why the TRO was issued upon the apparent sole authority of the Chief Justice after at least two en banc sessions had not acted on it, and why it could not wait for the next regular session of the Court."
Under Rule 58, Section 5 of the rules of Court, "if the matter is of extreme urgency and the applicant will suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury, the executive judge of a multiple-sala court or the presiding judge of a single-sala court may issue ex parte a temporary restraining order."
Saquilayan said they will file a motion to quash the TRO, saying he is the rightful winner in the 2010 elections. - Rappler.com
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