Mike Arroyo wants Sereno out of caseBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Former first gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo wants Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to inhibit herself from the case involving his and his wife’s questioning the watch-list orders issued against them by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last year.
Arroyo filed a motion in the Supreme Court on Thursday for the voluntary inhibition of Sereno from the case.
The petition cited three grounds for asking Sereno to inhibit from the case and these were the Chief Justice’s “bias and partiality” toward the administration of President Benigno Aquino; her being “subservient” to the family of the President, including the Cojuangcos, and her prejudgment of the case, as shown by her dissenting opinions.
On Sereno’s alleged bias for the Aquino administration, the petition cited as evidence the voting record of Sereno when she was an associate justice that showed her siding with Malacañang.
Among these cases was Malacañang’s bid to create a Truth Commission to investigate former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for alleged corruption during her administration. The majority of the Supreme Court had found the Truth Commission order unconstitutional, but Sereno voted for it.
She also voted against the petition of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who had asked the court to stop the House from hearing an impeachment complaint against her, while the majority voted to grant the pleading.
Sereno also disagreed with the majority ruling to grant a temporary restraining order sought by PSBank to prevent the Senate impeachment court from scrutinizing the dollar account of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Arroyo also pointed to Sereno’s vote to provide the Senate with court documents related to the allegations against Corona as well as allow court employees to testify in the impeachment court when the majority resolved to stop them from doing so.
Arroyo said Sereno also expressed willingness to testify and explain her dissent in the impeachment trial but the Supreme Court stopped her from doing so.
“All of the above instances illustrate in big bright impasto strokes the propensity of CJ Sereno to vote blindly and consistently in favor of the stand of the present administration whenever it has shown its unequivocal interest—and at times a direct hand—in a desired result from the Supreme Court,” Arroyo said in his petition.
On Sereno’s alleged subservience to the Aquino-Cojuangco family, Arroyo noted the way she voted in the case of Hacienda Luisita, owned by the President’s family. While the majority on the court voted to peg the land value of the Tarlac estate at the 1989 fair market value of P40,000 per hectare, Sereno voted to fix it at the 2006 value of P2.5 million per hectare.
Saying that Sereno had prejudged the watch-list case, Arroyo reminded the court that she had disagreed with the issuance of a TRO to stop the Department of Justice from enforcing its travel ban on the former first couple.
Arroyo took issue with Sereno’s summarizing the voting during the deliberations on the TRO in her Nov. 18, 2011 dissenting opinion, as well as her statements that showed “overweening bias.”
All this, Arroyo said, showed that Sereno was “consistently toeing the Aquino administration’s line.”