Fariñas: Sereno’s claim on the judiciary’s budget ‘sounds cunningly crazy’
The statement of ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno about the judiciary budget being “held hostage” in exchange for her expulsion “sounds cunningly crazy,” Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said on Tuesday.
In a statement, Fariñas refuted Sereno’s claim that the House of Representatives withheld the Judiciary’s budget “unless the Supreme Court cooperated fully with its plan to remove” her.
Sereno made the claim when she delivered her speech at the University of the Philippines on Tuesday, after the Supreme Court affirmed the May 11 ruling that led to her ouster.
“The statement of Atty. Maria Lourdes Sereno sounds cunningly crazy even from her!” Fariñas said, adding that the former Chief Justice’s claim was a “quadruple hearsay.”
He was referring to Sereno’s speech on Tuesday where she said Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez “had ordered the suspension of the deliberations of the budget of the judiciary unless all the documents that the complainant requested from the Supreme Court would be released.”
Sereno claimed that she learned about this from Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson Theodore Te.
She alleged that Fariñas had told high court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta about Alvarez’s supposed order.
Fariñas, to “show her [Sereno’s] ignorance or malice,” cited Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution which states that: “The Judiciary shall enjoy fiscal autonomy. Appropriations for the Judiciary may not be reduced by the legislature below the amount appropriated for the previous year and, after approval, shall be automatically and regularly released.”
Fariñas said Sereno can only say that the budget of the SC could be held hostage by the House if “she does not know the Constitution.”
Fariñas also explained why Sereno’s claim about the SC’s budget being held hostage could not be true.
“To show her (Sereno) propensity for falsehood,” Fariñas noted that the proposed Budget of the SC was approved instantaneously in the committee on Aug. 7, 2017.
It was approved in an hour on Plenary on Sept. 6, 2017, with only Minority Leader Danilo Suarez making an interpellation.
House Bill (HB) 6215, the proposed General Appropriations Act was approved on 2nd reading on Sept.12, 2017, and on third reading on Sept. 26, 2017, Fariñas added.
The fifteen impeachment hearings by the House justice committee, Fariñas stressed, were conducted on Nov. 22, 2017 to Feb. 27, 2018, “long after the HOR approved the Budget on third reading on Sept. 26, 2017.”
Fariñas also said the SC Resolution authorizing the SC justices and officials to testify in the impeachment hearings, as well as the release of the documents requested by complainant Lorenzo Gadon, was “unanimously approved by the Supreme Court En Banc.” This indicates that all 14 justices of the Court, except her, cited in favor of the said Resolution.
Meanwhile, Fariñas also provided reporters with the timeline of the budget deliberations vis-a-vis the impeachment proceedings:
A. Judiciary Budget Deliberations
1. Aug. 7, 2017: Committee on appropriations deliberation on Judiciary’s budget
2. Sept. 6, 2017: Termination of the consideration in the Plenary of the budget of the Judiciary with only 1 interpellator (Rep. Suarez)
(5:30 pm to 6:10 pm – 40 minutes)
3. Sept. 12, 2017: Approval on 2nd reading of HB 6215 (2018 Budget)
4. Sept. 26, 2017: Approval on 3rd Reading of HB 6215
B. Impeachment Complaint Against Former CJ Sereno
1. Aug. 15, 2017: Filing of the Impeachment Complaint of Atty. Gadon
2. Sept. 7, 2017: Referral to the C/ Justice of the Impeachment Complaint
3. Sept. 13, 2017: Impeachment Complaint was found sufficient in form and substance.
4. Oct 5, 2017: Complaint was found to have sufficient grounds
5. Nov 22, 2017 – Feb. 27, 2018: 15 hearings on the determination of probable cause
6. March 8, 2018: Complaint was found to have probable cause
7. March 19, 2018: Approval of the CR 686 and House Resolution 1802 Setting Forth the Articles of Impeachment
8. March 21, 2018: Referral to the C/Rules of CR 686 re HR 1802
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