MANILA, Philippines – “Peanuts.”
This was how Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman described the allegations and testimonies by witnesses during Tuesday’s impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“The accusations and testimonies against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on alleged protracted processes and delays in the release of death benefits are mere peanuts, good for a drinking spree but not for a serious charge of an impeachable offense,” he said in a statement issued Wednesday.
From the proceedings, Lagman said the charge against Sereno for allegedly delaying the release of death benefits to various claimants was “unwarranted and does not constitute an impeachable offense.”
According to the veteran lawmaker, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez confirmed that the release of death benefits to survivors of deceased justices and judges is an en banc decision of the Supreme Court as recommended by collegial bodies like the Special Committee on Civil Service and Retirement Benefits and two technical working groups, all of which were created pursuant to the internal rules of the high court.
“Verily, the processing and release of death benefits do not depend on the sole discretion and prerogative of the Chief Justice who should not be faulted for alleged delays of collegial bodies,” he said.
On Wednesday, the House justice committee resumed its hearing on allegations that Sereno delayed action on the request of the Department of Justice to transfer the Maute cases from Mindanao to Metro Manila.