Palace distances from Sereno’s snub of House probe on JDF
MANILA, Philippines – If she does not want to attend the hearing then that is her decision, Malacañang on Tuesday said after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno refused to attend a House of Representatives hearing on the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).
“Sarili nya pong pasya iyon at ginagalang po namin ang kanyang pasya (That is her decision and we respect it),” Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said in a Palace briefing.
Coloma distanced the Executive from the issue, saying it was an issue that concerned the House of Representatives, which is an independent and separate branch of government.
“Kami po interested observer lamang. Sila na po ang dapat magpasya kung ano ang karapat-dapat na gawin ayon sa layunin ng kanilang pagdinig,” he said.
(We are just interested observers. Congress will decide on what the appropriate action should be in accordance with the objective of their inquiry.)
Sereno, in her letter to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, said the timing and context of the hearing left much to be desired and that it would be inappropriate for a co-equal branch of government to invite the head of the Judiciary to share her opinion on two bills. She said the stage of initial deliberation was “premature.”
Coloma said Malacañang has yet to read the proposed bills filed in Congress pertaining to the JDF.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier said he didn’t want the Executive and the Judiciary to clash over the latter’s decision declaring parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), dubbed as the ‘presidential pork,’ unconstitutional.
However, after assailing the said decision, members of Congress floated the idea of looking into the JDF, which critics claimed as the judiciary’s own version of pork barrel.
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