Wednesday, March 14, 2018

LOOK: Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno's crimes and failures exposed

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, prompted into office under the leadership of former president Benigno Aquino III, recently has been bombarded with criticisms and speculations basically intended to further her pending impeachment complaints. The major concern or issue raised by Sereno's critics deals on her objectivity and discretion in various SC rulings and proceedings particularly those involving her "appointer" and its corresponding political party.

One of those wary anti-Sereno critics was Atty. Lorenzo Gadon who had previously blurted out in an officially filter affidavit, a number of allegations and accusations against the current Chief Justice. In his official complaint, Gadon elaborated 9 grounds for impeachment against Sereno which he himself supported with claims and evidences from various sources.

One of the major charges filed by Atty. Gadon against Sereno was"Tax and SALN Evasion". According to Gadon's sources, "Sereno earned US$745,000 from the government as legal fees for the PIATCO case. This amount was not reported in her SALN or to the Bureau of Internal Revenue."

Further, Sereno “used public funds to finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle” by having the SC purchase a 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser worth PHP5 million. She ordered its bullet-proofing but “withdrew when news of her impending impeachment broke out."...She travels with her “coterie of security” and two motorcycle escorts. She insists on flying herself, her security and “her clique of relatively new hired lawyers” on business class for domestic and international travel, and gives herself and her staff travel allowances from SC funds. ...She stayed in the Presidential Villa of Shangri-la Boracay during a 2016 conference, allegedly worth PHP200,000 a night. She holds meetings in 5-star hotels and clubs." Gadon's affidavit added.

The lawyer also accused the Chief Justice acting as JBC Chair guilty of manipulating judicial appointments "for personal and political reasons” and “transformed the JBC into a mafia-like organization.”...She accused now Justice Francis Jardeleza of lack of integrity, violating due process by not giving him a chance to respond to her allegations, and had him removed from the short list by invoking a rule requiring a unanimous JBC vote for allegations on integrity. 

Such assertion was also supported by Justice Arturo Brion's concurring opinion in the SC decision claiming that: “CJ Sereno manipulated the JBC process to exclude Jardeleza as a nominee, accusing Sereno of “character assassination in the guise of a Supplemental Comment.”

Another point of speculation presented by Atty. Gadon in his affidavit was the alleged involvement of the Chief Justice in the intended “arrest” of Senator Leila de Lima. According to Gadon, “Sereno had an SC official call the Muntinlupa judges handling de Lima’s 2017 cases and order them not to issue warrants of arrest considering that she is a senator.”

Other allegations Gadon had filed against Chief Justice Sereno were Falsifying orders, Delayed pensions for retired justices, Delayed Maute cases transfer, Lack of bidding for a high paying job, and Falsifying her Curriculum Vitae by adding fallacious and unverifiable information..

All these shortcomings and failures of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, as how Atty. Gadon emphasized, should sufficiently establish grounds for impeachment. That is, in the realm of public service especially to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno being the head of the judiciary branch of Philippine government must establish integrity and untainted credibility. And once proven guilty of the aforementioned failures, shortcomings, deceitful actions, the highly scrutinized Chief Justice should give the judiciary branch she represents a chance for redemption by voluntarily vacating her post.

Source: Inquirer

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