MANILA, Philippines – A second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was delivered to the House of Representatives on Wednesday by lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon, former counsel of ex-President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Gadon told reporters he had given copies of the complaint against Sereno to at least five congressmen, who were being eyed as endorsers.
“Lima sila, sila ang nag-iikot. Total confidentiality ang hinihingi sa akin para raw walang pressure [They are five, they are the ones doing the rounds. They are asking for total confidentiality so there will be no pressure],” said Gadon.
Sereno was appointed by former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III after her predecessor, Chief Justice Renato Corona, was ousted at the end of an 18-week trial from January to May 2012 at the Senate, sitting as an impeachment tribunal.
Senators voted 20-3 convicting Corona of, among others, misrepresenting facts in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth.
In his complaint against Sereno, Gadon accused the chief justice of committing the following acts:
- She falsified the Resolution of the Supreme Court in A.M. No. 12-11-9-SC.
- She falsified the Temporary Restraining Order of the Supreme Court in G.R. Nos. 206844-45.
- She falsified the Resolution of the Supreme Court in A.M. No. 16-08-04-SC.
- She delayed action on the numerous Petitions for Retirement Benefits of Justices and Judges, and the surviving spouses of deceased Justices and Judges.
- She manipulated and thereafter delayed the resolution of A.M. No. 17-06-02-SC (the request of the Secretary of Justice to transfer the Maute cases outside of Mindanao) after realizing that she lost in the voting.
- She failed to truthfully disclose her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALN.
- She manipulated the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to exclude then Solicitor General Francis H. Jardeleza, for personal and political reasons, thereby disgracing then Sol. Gen. Jardeleza, and curtailing the President’s power to appoint him.
- She manipulated the shortlist of the JBC for the six (6) vacancies in the Sandiganbayan, for personal and political reasons, thereby limiting the President’s power to appoint the Justices of the Sandiganbayan.
- She manipulated the shortlist of the JBC for the two (2) vacancies in the Supreme Court, and failed to heed the pronouncements of the Court in Aguinaldo v. Aquino, thereby impairing and curtailing the President’s power to appoint the Justices of the Supreme Court.
- She lied and made it appear that “several justices” requested that they do away with voting for recommendees to the Supreme Court, when in fact not one Justice requested for it.
- She manipulated the JBC, especially its four (4) regular members, effectively destroying the JBC as a constitutional body mandated to fairly and impartially screen and nominate applicants to the Judiciary.
The complaint also alleged Sereno committed corruption when:
- She used public funds to finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle by ordering the purchase of a brand-new luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 model as her personal vehicle, amounting to more than Five Million Pesos.
- She used public funds to stay in opulent hotels when attending conferences in the Philippines and abroad, and flying on business or first class together with her staff and security.
- She used public funds to flaunt her extravagance by unnecessarily bringing a huge entourage of lawyers in her supposed official foreign trips.
The alleged acts constituting high crimes consist of the following:
- She obstructed justice by ordering the Muntinlupa Judges not to issue warrants of arrest against Senator Leila M. De Lima.
- She perverted justice by meeting the Presiding Justice and Associate Justices of the Court of Appeals and instructing them not to comply with the processes of the House of Representatives and to immediately question its processes before the Supreme Court.
- She failed to report her extortionate attorney’s fees and pay the appropriate taxes therefor.
- She embellished her Personal Data Sheet (PDS) in her application for the Judiciary to overstate her credentials.
As to betrayal of public trust, the complaint alleged the following:
- She hired an Information Technology consultant with an excessive compensation without public bidding, in contravention of existing laws, Commission on Audit rules, and public policy.
- She sent a strongly-worded but misplaced reply to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the Judges linked to drugs thereby inviting a head-on collision between the Presidency and the Judiciary.
- She prevented the Justices of the Court of Appeals to do a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte.
- She attacked the imposition of Martial Law in a commencement address, while the validity of Martial Law was still pending before the Supreme Court, and later continued to participate in the Court’s deliberations.
- She issued a Joint Statement with the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals regarding CA-GR SP No. 151029, which can very well be elevated to the Supreme Court.
- She practiced favoritism by allowing key positions in the Supreme Court to remain unfilled for a long period of time in order to wait for her staff to qualify, to the detriment of the service and great demoralization of qualified Court employees.
- She appointed a key official without authority or approval of the Court en banc, in violation of Court-established rules and the Constitution.
- She gave her newly-hired staff foreign travels and granted them travel allowances for their foreign travels without authority or approval of the Court en banc, in violation of Court-established rules and the Constitution.
- She usurped the mandate of the Court en banc by arrogating to herself alone the running of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary, thereby destroying the Supreme Court as a collegial body.
“The listed litany of lapses committed by Respondent Sereno is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Many many more are shrouded in mystery, hidden in the historic halls of the great Hall of Justice along Padre Faura,” Gadon said in the complaint.
“Court officials have been mum for fear of Respondent Sereno, as they do not want to be wrapped within her wrath. These wrongdoings can only be unraveled through an investigation of a co-equal body,” he added.
In May this year, the House of Representatives dismissed an impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano against President Rodrigo Duterte.
Another complaint has been submitted to the Speaker’s Office against Vice President Leni Robredo, but no one has endorsed it yet. (with a report from Camille Aguinaldo, InterAksyon)
THE COMPLAINT AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO AND THE TABLE OF ANNEXES: