Lawmakers threaten to impeach Sereno | Inquirer News

Lawmakers threaten to impeach Sereno

/ 03:40 AM August 07, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–Leaders of the House of Representatives are keen on impeaching Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, an appointee of President Aquino, and some of her colleagues allegedly for betrayal of public trust.

“The Chief Justice is not a sacred cow. If she commits any act, that in the mind of Congress, reaches the level of an impeachable offense, I don’t think Congress will tiptoe into filing a complaint to remove her. It will impeach her posthaste,” said Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said that based on a Commission on Audit report, the justices could be culpable for corrupt practices.


Umali said the justices used part of the P1.3 billion in  Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) as loans for the purchase of  motorcycles (P6 million), computers (P2.8 million) and handguns (P1.2 million) two years ago; and as investment (P368 million) in a high-yielding account.


Umali said the House justice committee hoped to establish in the next hearings (set to resume in the last week of the month) whether the justices had violated the spirit of Presidential Decree No. 1949.

The decree created the JDF in 1984 specifically for allowances and maintenance of courts nationwide.


On Tuesday, Sereno was a no-show at the justice committee inquiry into the JDF. The Chief Justice said summoning the head of a co-equal branch might be premature and inappropriate.

“As the sole authority to disburse the JDF, the Chief Justice has a lot of responsibility on how the fund was used. That she chose to ignore our invitation [to attend a hearing] is her call. We will proceed with our investigation,” Umali said.

Umali has drafted an impeachment complaint against five unnamed justices for flip-flopping on their decisions. But he has yet to file it.


The House probe came after President Aquino attacked the Supreme Court for declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which used savings to pump-prime the economy, unconstitutional. Legislators were allocated funds from the DAP.

Late last year, the Supreme Court also declared the legislators’ pork barrel, the Priority Development Assistance Fund, unconstitutional.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, justice committee vice chair, said he was considering filing an impeachment case against Sereno and other justices.

“There are other things that I discovered in my research on this (JDF fund mess) and I will deliver a privilege speech and warn them to better stop and desist from doing these. Otherwise, I might be tempted to file impeachment cases against them if they do not stop doing those things,” Fariñas said.

SC expanded JDF sources

He noted that the Supreme Court itself issued a circular expanding the funding sources of the JDF from bail bonds and docket fees to the sale of unserviceable equipment, sale of its reports, pursuit of operation of transportation facilities and grant of concessions to operate canteens.

“The Supreme Court has no power to legislate. That’s why it does not even have the power to generate its own funds,” Fariñas said.

He said these acts could amount to betrayal of public trust, one of the grounds for impeachment.

Fariñas, however, remained hopeful the magistrates would learn the error of their ways and act accordingly to avert ejection from their posts.

Aggabao, Umali and Fariñas were members of the House prosecution team that succeeded in obtaining a guilty verdict for then Chief Justice Renato Corona at the Senate impeachment trial two years ago for not declaring certain bank deposits in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Sereno took the place of Corona on the Supreme Court.


Sereno may face impeachment

Chief Justice Sereno snubs ‘unhealthy’ House probe into JDF

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Sereno no-show at House JDF hearing

TAGS: Congress, Giorgidi Aggabao, Impeachment, Supreme Court

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