Maria Lourdes Sereno
|Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines|
August 25, 2012 – May 11, 2018[a]
On leave from March 1 – May 9, 2018[b]
|Appointed by||Benigno Aquino III|
|Preceded by||Renato Corona|
|Succeeded by||Teresita Leonardo-De Castro|
|169th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines|
August 13, 2010 – August 25, 2012
|Appointed by||Benigno Aquino III|
|Preceded by||Renato Corona|
|Succeeded by||Marvic Leonen|
Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal|
July 2, 1960
Ateneo de Manila University (BA)|
University of the Philippines, Diliman (LLB)
University of Michigan (LLM)
Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno (Tagalog: [sɛˈrɛnɔ], born Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal; July 2, 1960) is a Filipina lawyer and judge who served as de facto Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines from 2012 until her removal in 2018. Appointed to the Court by President Benigno Aquino III in 2012, she became the second youngest person (at the age of 52) to assume the post. She was removed from office by way of an 8–6 decision by the Supreme Court over a quo warranto petition, rendering her appointment as Chief Justice null and void. Many supporters as well as legal experts regard the impeachment and removal of Sereno, who opposed President Duterte's martial law and other executive actions, as politically motivated.
A scholarship allowed her to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in economics at Ateneo de Manila University in 1980. She finished her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law, graduating as cum laude and class valedictorian, passing the bar in 1984.
She is an alumna of the UP Portia Sorority.
Sereno started her career as a junior associate of the Sycip Salazar Feliciano and Hernandez law firm.
She was the only female member of the 1999 Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform where she headed the commission’s Steering Committee. In the same year, with Justice Jose Campos, Commissioner Haydee Yorac, and other professors from the UP College of Law, she co-founded Accesslaw, a corporation that provided the first annotated electronic research system in Philippine law.
She also served as legal counsel for various government offices including the Office of the President, Office of the Solicitor General, Manila International Airport Authority, and the Department of Trade and Industry. She previously headed the Information and Public Division office of the UP Law Complex. She was also a faculty member at The Hague Academy of International Law in Cambodia.
At the time of her appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Sereno was executive director of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center. She was also the president of Accesslaw Inc., had taught at University of the Philippines College of Law for 19 years, and served as a consultant for the United Nations, World Bank, and US Agency for International Development.
In August 2010, she was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, its 169th Member and the first appointee to the High Court by President Benigno Aquino III. Sereno, the 13th woman appointed as Justice of the Supreme Court, was the youngest appointee to the court since Manuel Moran in 1945 until Marvic Leonen surpassed her at the age of 49 in 2012.
On August 24, 2012, President Aquino announced his appointment of Justice Sereno as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, replacing Renato Corona, who was removed from office in May 2012 after being convicted in an impeachment trial.
Sereno voted against several of President Rodrigo Duterte's proposals, such as declaring martial law and burying Ferdinand Marcos in a cemetery reserved for national heroes. Sereno also took a stance on Duterte's Philippine Drug War when she called for due process for those included in Duterte's "drug list", a list of people alleged to be involved in the illegal drug trade.
In a televised public speech in April 2018, Duterte addressed the Chief Justice thus: "So I’m putting you on notice that I am now your enemy. And you have to be out of the Supreme Court." after Sereno accused him of interfering with the case.
On August 30, 2017, at least 25 members of the House of Representatives began the impeachment process against then-Chief Justice Sereno. In addition Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition to invalidate her appointment as chief justice over alleged lack of integrity. Both the impeachment proceedings and quo warranto petition cites Sereno's alleged failure to properly declare her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) and was also responsible for tax misdeclarations and unauthorized expenses. Sereno has questioned the quo warranto petition saying that she could only be legally removed through impeachment
After an impeachment process against her began, Sereno took an indefinite leave on March 1, 2018, but maintained she will not resign. She returned from leave shortly after the rest of the Supreme Court made a decision on the quo warranto petition. Deciding on the quo warranto petition en banc the Supreme Court justices voted to remove Sereno from the court on May 11, 2018, by a vote of 8-6..
Sereno filed a motion for consideration but the high court denied with finality Sereno's motion for reconsideration for lack of merit on June 19, 2018 voting 8-6, upholding the quo warranto decision. The ruling also states that no further pleading will be entertained as well as order for immediate entry of judgement.
Supporters of the decision hailed the ruling which they viewed maintained the integrity of the high court while critics view it as an attack on the high court's judicial independence
Senior Justice Antonio Carpio assumed the post of Chief Justice in an acting capacity starting May 14, 2018, following Sereno's removal from office. On the evening of August 25, Teresita de Castro, who only had two months left to serve in office, was appointed by president Rodrigo Duterte as the new Chief Justice. The appointment sparked outrage from the opposition.
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| Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
| Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Teresita Leonardo-de Castro