Inside SC: Justice De Castro vs CJ Sereno?

On July 10,  Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro sent a 5-page memorandum to all the justices of the Supreme Court (SC). The content? Three objections to the actions of one: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The 3rd item on the memorandum pertains to the foreign travel of Sereno's staff lawyer, Ma Lourdes Oliveros.

"The Chief Justice granted (Oliveros) foreign travel allowances charged to the Supreme Court funds without Court approval. The same is true with the foreign travel of the other staff in the OCJ," Leonardo-De Castro wrote.

Leonardo-De Castro said it should be the court en banc, not just Sereno, who should approve official travel business.

Because of this, Leonardo-De Castro said the SC should collegially "impose compliance" to this rule. (READ: Sereno faces uphill battle in High Court)

Appointment of official

The 2nd item questions the appointment of Brenda Jay Mendoza as head of the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC).

PMC is under the Philippine Judicial Academy or Philja, which is the "training school for justices, judges, court personnel, lawyers and aspirants to judicial posts."

According to Leonardo-De Castro, Sereno and two senior justices acted on their own in appointing Mendoza to the post even though there is an administrative order which says it should have been a collegial decision of the court.

Leonardo-De Castro said that when SC appointed Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg as PMC Chief in 2015, the full court approved it. (READ: Scrutinizing Sereno, one year after)

"No Philja board resolution recommending Atty. Mendoza as PMC chief was submitted to the Court for action unlike in the appointment of PMC chief Econg. Hence, Administrative Order No. 33-2008 was not followed in the appointment of Atty. Mendoza," she said.

"The Chief Justice submitted the said appointment to two other Senior justices only," Leonardo-De Castro said without naming the two other justices.

The Associate Justice is asking her colleagues to review Mendoza's appointment. 

MEMORANDUM. Last page of Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro's memorandum sent to Supreme Court justices on July 10, 2017.

MEMORANDUM. Last page of Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro's memorandum sent to Supreme Court justices on July 10, 2017.

Vacancies

The first item is a complaint that Sereno has not yet acted on the appointments of key positions in SC pending before her office.

For example, Leonardo-De Castro said the SC has not had a deputy clerk of court and chief attorney for 3 years and 8 months now. Two positions for assistant court administrator have also been vacant for more than 4 years.

Leonardo-De Castro said that before he retired, former Associate Justice Jose Perez requested Sereno "several times" to put the vacancies on the court agenda.

"The requests remained unheeded by the Chief Justice even up to now," she said.

Leonardo-De Castro ended her memorandum by recommending 4 actions to address the issues she raised. One of which asks the justices to "order the posting of the long-vacant positions and adopt guidelines to require expeditious posting and filling-up of vacant positions to serve the best interest of the service."

This is not the first time that the two justices clashed heads. (READ: Jardeleza's SC entry and Sereno's eroding clout)

Leonardo-De Castro was the one who questioned Sereno's decision to reopen the Regional Constitutional Administrative Office (RCAO) in Visayas in 2012.

SC eventually revoked the order. – Rappler.com