MANILA – Some senators have cried foul against the claim of lawyer Larry Gadon that a business tycoon is ready to shell out P200 million to each senator in order to win an acquittal for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno should her case reach trial in the Senate. Supposedly, the tycoon is willing to fund an outcome acquitting Sereno because the Sereno court had ruled in his company’s favor in several cases.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said no one should believe Gadon, who made the claim in an interview at the weekend, as he had been found to be spewing a lot of hearsay when he was being grilled about his charges against Sereno in the House Justice committee impeachment hearings.
The hearings are set to resume Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 5 and 6) this week before a vote to determine judicial determination of probable cause is made on Dec. 13.
In fact, Lacson added, some of Gadon’s claims even represented triple hearsay. Lacson said he was certain no one had spoken to the senators about Sereno’s case.
Lacson shared the suspicion this might be a tactic of Gadon in order to put pressure on the senators, so that, if and when the Sereno case is elevated to the Senate, the senator-judges will be forced to convict Sereno just to avoid suspicion they have been bought.
For her part, Sen. Grace Poe was adamant in saying the senators had not been talking to anybody about the Sereno case.
The people are closely watching the case, and a second impeachment trial of a chief justice will certainly be watched — so senators must ensure the case is decided on the merits, Poe said.
Poe stressed this is not about money, and she vowed to fight anyone who tries to corrupt the process.
It is Gadon’s obligation to reveal the source of his claim, especially considering he has been spewing a lot of inconsistencies lately, said Poe.
If her case goes to trial, Sereno will be the second chief justice in the country’s history to be trid by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court. In January 2012, the Senate opened the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, on allegations he had made false entries in his statement of assets liabilities and net worth (SALN), and convicted him in May 2012 on a vote of 20-3.
The only senators voting to acquit Corona were Sen. Bongbong Marcos, and two veteran lawmakers who have since died: Miriam Santiago and Joker Arroyo.
However, that vote to convict Corona was thrust anew in the limelight when it was revealed in 2014 that the Aquino administration had concocted a Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) – later ruled illegal by the Supreme Court – and that funds were realigned to pad the senators’ pet projects.
Then President Benigno Aquino III had been known to be at odds with Corona, whom he considered a “midnight appointee” of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.