2 SC justices willing to testify in Sereno impeachment case, says complainant

August 31, 2017 - 4:44 PM
File photos of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon (from InterAksyon) and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (from Philstar)

MANILA, Philippines — Two male justices of the Supreme Court are willing to testify in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that was recently filed at the House of Representatives, the complainant, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, said.

“Ang pagkakaalam ko sa ngayon, dalawa are already willing to (testify), parehong lalake,” he said at a news forum on Thursday, August 31.

Gadon said it was also possible that a third justice of the high tribunal — a female magistrate – would testify against Sereno “if she will respect also the processes of the House.”

On Wednesday, August 30, Gadon field an impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice, accusing her of culpably violating the Constitution, betraying public trust, and committing corruption and other high crimes.

The complaint was endorsed by 25 House members.

According to Gadon, Sereno could be impeached just with her allegedly untruthful declarations in her Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).

Iyong [The] SALN from 2010 to 2017, shoot na [it’s already shoot]…Malaki ang discrepancy sa SALN [There are big discrepancies in the SALN],” he said.

Gadon claimed that Sereno did not include in her initial SALN the P37 million lawyer’s fees from the Philippine government as part of a team of local private lawyers in the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco) case.

In his complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of culpably violating the Charter after she allegedly falsified the following:

–Resolution of the Supreme Court in A.M. No. 12-11-9-SC (Re: Opening the Regional Court Administrative Office in Region 7 dated Nov. 27, 2012); (Creating a Needs Assessment Committee to Study the Necessity of Decentralizing the Functions in Support of the Supreme Court’s Power of Administrative Supervision Over Lower Courts dated dated Jan. 22, 2013)

–Temporary Restraining Order of the Supreme Court in G.R. Nos. 206844-45 (TRO in Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines v. Comelec)

–Resolution of the Supreme Court in A.M. No. 16-08-04-SC (dated August 16, 2016, ordering the Conduct of a Motu Proprio Fact Finding Investigation on Allegation of Four (4) Incumbent Judges’ Involvement in Illegal Drugs)

The complainant also claimed that Sereno culpably violated the 1987 Constitution when she allegedly:

–Delayed action on the numerous petitions for retirement benefits of justices and judges, and the surviving spouses of deceased magistrates

–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

–Failed to truthfully disclose her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth

–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 Jardeleza, and curtailing the President’s power to appoint him

–Manipulated the shortlist of the JBC for the six vacancies in the Sandiganbayan, for personal and political reasons, thereby limiting the President’s power to appoint the justices of the Sandiganbayan

–Manipulated the shortlist of the JBC for the two 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

–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

–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

Gadon likewise alleged that Sereno had 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 P5 million

–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

-Used public funds to flaunt her extravagance by unnecessarily bringing a huge entourage of lawyers in her supposed official foreign trips

He further claimed that the Chief Justice had committed other high crimes when she allegedly:

–Obstructed justice by ordering the Muntinlupa Judges not to issue warrants of arrest against Senator Leila M. De Lima

–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

–Failed to report her extortionate attorney’s fees and pay the appropriate taxes therefor

–Embellished her personal data sheet in her application for the judiciary to overstate her credentials

He also alleged that Sereno betrayed public trust when 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

–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

–Prevented the Justices of the Court of Appeals to do a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

–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

–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

–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

–Appointed a key official without authority or approval of the Court en banc, in violation of Court-established rules and the Constitution

–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

–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