MANILA, Aug. 8 –The Supreme Court (SC) granted the request of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI) for some records in connection to the impeachment complaint filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
SC spokesman Theodore Te announced the directive was issued following Tuesday’s regular en banc session of the magistrates.
Te told reporters that they approved the groups’ requests for certified copies of the following documents:
- En Banc Resolution in A.M. 12-11-9-SC supposedly adopted on Nov. 27, 2012 creating the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and re-opening the Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO) in Central Visayas
- Subsequent En Banc Resolution recalling A.M. 12-11-9-SC
- Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s letter on the withdrawal of his signature in the appointment of Atty. Solomon Lumba as Chief Justice Staff Head II
- Memorandum to the Court en banc dated December 2012 of Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro seeking the recall of honorable Sereno’s administrative order creating the new Judiciary Decentralized Office and re-opening the Regional Court Administration Office
- En Banc Resolution creating the Needs Assessment Committee to determine the need to decentralize the functions of the Supreme Court in support of its power of administrative supervision over lower courts.
The Court, however, did not grant the release of the copy of the memorandum to the Court en banc dated July 10, 2017 of De Castro asking for a review of Sereno’s administrative orders regarding the appointment of Atty. Brenda Jay Mendoza as chief of the Philippine Mediation Center Office by mere memorandum which was not referred to the Court en banc for its consideration.
The memorandum also assails frequent foreign travels and grant of allowance to Atty. Maria Lourdes Oliveros and other Office of the Chief Justice staff purportedly with funding support for airfare, accommodation and other related travel expenses from the host organizers without Court en banc approval.
Last Aug. 2, Jimenez led the filing of the impeachment bid against Sereno on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
However, the impeachment complaint does not have an endorsement from any House member.
A complaint filed by any citizen should get the endorsement of a sitting congressman before being referred to the House committee on justice for hearing.
Jimenez noted in the complaint that Sereno culpably violated the Constitution for the following reasons
- issuing an administrative order creating the new Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and re-opening the Regional Administration Office (RCAO) in Western Visayas in the absence of an authority from the Court en banc;
- violating the constitutional provision that appointive government officials shall not hold another public post unless provided for by law, in appointing Atty. Solomon Lumba as her staff head. Lumba was a faculty member of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law when he was appointed as Chief Justice staff head;
- appointing Atty. Brenda Jay Mendoza as Philippine Mediation Center Office Chief by mere memorandum which was not referred to the court en banc for its consideration;
- granting to members of her staff travel allowances for foreign travel charged to the Supreme Court funds without court en banc approval.
- Sereno also betrayed public trust through “inexcusable negligence”, for sitting on the applications for the vacant posts in the Supreme Court.
Lawyer Larry Gadon was also set to file a separate impeachment complaint against Sereno, but decided first to gather more support from congressmen for endorsement.
He also filed before the SC on Tuesday his five-page letter was addressed to Atty. Felipa B. Anama of the Clerk of Court to also seek release of the court records for his complaint against the chief justice, including copies of her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth and her psychological records with the Judicial and Bar Council when she applied for chief justice in 2012.
Gadon also cited non declaration of her earnings from her stint as part of the government’s legal team in the government case against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) where she acted as a legal researcher as another basis for filing the impeachment complaint againt the top magistrate.
Included in the documents Gadon is requesting for are psychological records of Ms. Sereno and materials pertaining to the request to purchase, bidding, procurement, and delivery of the Toyota Land Cruise that was allegedly for the chief justice.
An impeachment complaint needs to get an endorsement of a sitting congressman before it could be referred to the House committee on justice for hearing.