Ex-first gentleman Arroyo asks Sereno inhibition in DoJ case
MANILA, Philippines—Former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo insists that the Supreme Court issue a ruling on his petition questioning the authority of the Department of Justice to bar people from leaving the country without a court order.
Arroyo had questioned the authority of the DoJ to put him on the watchlist after he was included as respondent in a complaint for electoral sabotage filed with the DoJ last year. The high court, however, dismissed Arroyo’s petition for being moot and academic after the DoJ eventually struck out his name from the Immigration watchlist when he was not among those charged with electoral sabotage before the Pasay Regional Trial Court.
Despite the pronouncement of the high court, the former first gentleman wants the SC to still rule on the case “in the interest of the public and to avoid similar incidents in the future.”
And on Thursday, Arroyo filed a motion seeking the inhibition of new Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on the case for her alleged “bias and partiality” toward the Aquino administration.
In the 13-page motion for inhibition, Arroyo, through his lawyers Ferdinand Topacio and Joselito Lomangaya, alleged that Sereno’s voting record in several cases showed her “propensity for voting in favor of the administration,” citing the cases involving the Truth Commission, the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the confidentiality of dollar accounts filed by PS Bank, the temporary restraining order in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and the release of court records in connection with the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“The Chief Justice has shown that in deciding cases, she has put personal predilections over and above the letter of the law, to the extent of locking horns with the majority. She thus shows that deficiency in the requisite objectivity that should suffuse all the official acts of a judge. If she is to serve her oath well, she has no recourse but to recuse herself; there is no other way,” the lawyers said.
Arroyo’s counsels also pointed out that Sereno’s dissents in the Arroyo case has shown that she has already prejudged as guilty the former first gentleman when in her dissent she said the P2 million bond set by the court for Arroyo before he is allowed to travel was merely “crumbs for one who, if proven, has actually obtained multiples more from the country’s coffers.”
The lawyers likewise called attention to the dissents of Sereno in the DoJ watchlist cases, wherein Sereno revealed certain confidential information relating to the deliberations of the SC, which prompted Justice Abad to remark that ‘if our deliberations cannot remain confidential, we might as well close down business.’”
“By acting the way she did, the Chief Justice has shown that in deciding this case, she has put personal predilections over and above the letter of the law, to the extent of locking horns with majority…If she is to serve her oath well, she has no recourse but to recuse herself; there is no other way,” the lawyers said in their motion.
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