Justice Tijam: Chief Justice Sereno is not the SC
“The Chief Justice is not the Supreme Court.”
Appearing before the House committee hearing the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Supreme Court Associate Justice Noel Tijam stressed that the chief magistrate was not the sole representative of the tribunal.
“The Supreme Court is a collegial, a consultative, a deliberative and participatory body; the Chief Justice is not the Supreme Court,” Tijam said Monday before the House justice committee.
“Like the chief of a tribe or a community, the chief of conglomerate, or the chief of a group of companies, the Chief Justice cannot overrule, supersede or cancel the decision of the en banc,” Tijam said.
Tijam, President Duterte’s first appointee in the SC, was apparently referring to the allegation that Sereno “caused that the matter” of the transfer of Maute cases be raffled to her office.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, whom Tijam said was his close friend for 40 years, asked the SC to transfer the trial of Maute cases from Cagayan de Oro to Metro Manila after some judges and court personnel expressed security fears.
Tijam then issued a memorandum to the en banc members informing them of his vote to grant Aguirre’s request.
According to complainant Lorenzo Gadon, Sereno assigned the handling of Aguirre’s resolution to her office after earlier assigning it to Tijam after failing to get a majority vote on her desire to keep the Maute and similar cases in Cagayan de Oro.
Sereno’s camp, however, said Gadon perjured himself by saying that the case was assigned to Tijam, adding that Sereno did not have a hand in manipulating the raffle of cases for the decision to come out in her favor.
“The Chief Justice is the Member-in-Charge for this administrative matter. The Chief Justice did not and could not have “caused the matter to be raffled to her.” The Chief Justice is not the head, and is not even a member of the Raffle Committee. She has no participation at all in the raffle of cases,” Sereno’s counsels said in an emailed statement.
Tijam also said Gadon mistakenly thought that he was the assigned member-in-charge in relation to the transfer of Maute cases.
“Atty. Gadon mistakenly thought that I was the assigned member with respect to the Maute cases probably because I circulated a memorandum to the members of en banc. The case wasn’t raffled to me,” Tijam said. /cbb
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