Maria Lourdes Sereno

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Maria Lourdes Sereno
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.jpg
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
De facto
In office
August 25, 2012 – May 11, 2018[a]
On leave from March 1 – May 9, 2018[b]
Appointed byBenigno Aquino III
Preceded byRenato Corona
Succeeded byTeresita de Castro
169th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
In office
August 13, 2010 – August 25, 2012
Appointed byBenigno Aquino III
Preceded byRenato Corona
Succeeded byMarvic Leonen
Personal details
Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal

(1960-07-02) July 2, 1960 (age 59)
Manila, Philippines
EducationAteneo de Manila University (BA)
University of the Philippines Diliman (LLB, MA)
University of Michigan (LLM)

Maria Lourdes "Meilou" 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 Republic of the Philippines[2] from 2012 until her removal in 2018. Appointed as Associate Justice by President Benigno Aquino III in August 2010, she became the second youngest person (at the age of 52) to assume the post of Chief Justice in August 2012. 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.[1] Many supporters as well as legal experts regard the removal of Sereno, who opposed President Duterte's martial law and other executive actions, as politically motivated.[3][4][5][6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

Sereno was born on July 2, 1960, in Manila, to Margarito Aranal, a native of Siasi, Sulu, and Soledad Punzalan, who served as a public school teacher.[8]

Sereno graduated salutatorian from Kamuning Elementary School in 1972 and with honors from Quezon City High School in 1976.[9]

A scholarship allowed her to apply at the Ateneo de Manila University where she had the options of taking either Political Science or Economics. She opted for the Bachelor of Arts in Economics and graduated in 1980. She finished her Bachelor of Laws degree from the UP College of Law at the University of the Philippines Diliman, graduating as cum laude and class valedictorian, passing the bar in 1984.[10]

She obtained a Master of Arts in economics from the University of the Philippines School of Economics (also at UP Diliman) in 1992. She earned a Master of Laws from the University of Michigan Law School in 1993.[11]

She is an alumna of the UP Portia Sorority.[12]


Pre-Supreme Court career[edit]

Sereno started her career as a junior associate of the Sycip Salazar Feliciano and Hernandez law firm.[11]

At the age of 38, she was appointed as legal counselor at the World Trade Organization's Appellate Body Secretariat in Geneva.[13]

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.[13]

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.[11]

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.[14]

Sereno served as a co-counsel with Justice Florentino Feliciano on the Fraport case in Singapore, in which the Republic of the Philippines won the case.[15]

Supreme Court of the Philippines[edit]

Sereno at Andres Narvasa's funeral in 2013

Associate Justice (2010–2012)[edit]

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.[16]

Chief Justice (2012–2018)[edit]

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.[17] 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.[18]

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."[19] after Sereno accused him of interfering with the case.

Removal from office[edit]
Sereno addressing supporters after a decision was made on the quo warranto petition filed against her on May 11, 2018.

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.[1]

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.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Maria Lourdes Sereno is married to Mario Jose E. Sereno of Davao City. They have two children, Maria Sophia and Jose Lorenzo.[8]


  • Awardee for Law, The Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service (TOWNS), 1998[13]


  1. ^ Maria Lourdes Sereno was removed on May 11, 2018, via quo warranto by a special en banc session which also ruled that the Chief Justice post vacant; the petition alleged Sereno's appointment was void ab initio due to her failure in complying with the Judicial and Bar Council requirements. Hence, her tenure is now considered de facto.[1]
  2. ^ Duties and powers transferred to Antonio Carpio while on leave.


  1. ^ a b c "G.R. No. 237428. May 11, 2018" (PDF). Supreme Court of the Philippines. May 11, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  2. ^ Ina Reformina. "Profile: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno". Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  3. ^ Ballaran, Jhoanna. "Political analyst believes Sereno oust bid is politically motivated". Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  4. ^ "Philippine chief justice Sereno, Duterte's critic, removed". Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  5. ^ "Embattled Philippine Supreme Court chief goes on leave amid resignation rumours". February 27, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  6. ^ "Robredo: Public disagreements among SC justices 'wounded' its integrity". Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  7. ^ "Philippine legislators vote to impeach chief justice". Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Mayol, Ador Vincent; Napallacan, Jhunnex (August 25, 2012). "Sereno, 52, will have second longest tenure in High Court". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  9. ^ Caruncho, Eric S. (March 4, 2018). "CJ Lourdes Sereno: The 'Batang Kamuning' in fighting form". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  10. ^ "Next Chief Justice". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Reformina, Ina (August 24, 2012). "Profile: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno". ABS-CBN. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  12. ^ "Laban sis! UP Portia Sorority backs Sereno amid resignation calls". Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c "Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno". Government of the Philippines. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  14. ^ Torres, Tetch (August 24, 2012). "Sereno appointed as new Chief Justice". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  15. ^ de Santos, Jonathan (August 24, 2012). "PH gets first ever lady Chief Justice in Lourdes Sereno". Yahoo! News. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  16. ^ "Peace negotiator Leonen named to Supreme Court; youngest justice since '38". GMA News Online. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  17. ^ "Philippine Supreme Court removes Duterte 'enemy' judge". Reuters. May 11, 2018. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  18. ^ Merez,, Arianne; Quintos, Patrick; Reformina, Ina; Manabat, Johnson (May 11, 2018). "Supreme Court ousts Chief Justice Sereno". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved May 11, 2018.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  19. ^ "Fear for democracy after top Philippine judge and government critic removed". The Guardian. May 12, 2018. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  20. ^ "G.R. No. 237428. June 19, 2018" (PDF). Supreme Court of the Philippines. June 19, 2018. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  21. ^ Panaligan, Rey (May 13, 2018). "Carpio assumes SC Chief Justice position". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  22. ^ Buan, Lian; Ranada, Pia. "Teresita de Castro is new Supreme Court Chief Justice". Rappler. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Renato Corona

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

Succeeded by
Marvic Leonen
Preceded by
Renato Corona

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
de facto

Succeeded by
Teresita Leonardo-de Castro