Second impeachment complaint vs Sereno awaiting more signatures
The lawyer mulling on filing a second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is hoping to get signatures of at least 10 House of Representatives members to endorse his impeachment try.
Reporters waited at the House of Representatives Secretary-General’s office for Atty. Larry Gadon, who apparently met with five lawmakers in closed-door meetings, one of whom advised him to get as many as 10 signatures.
In an interview at the House press office, Gadon said he was advised by one House member to get as many as 10 endorsers to put out any question about his impeachment complaint.
He also left copies of his complaint to the lawmakers to give them more time to study the impeachment complaint against the chief justice, Gadon added.
“Yung kausap ko, gusto niya na dapat marami, at least sampu, para mas maganda yung dating. Mahirap naman kasi kung mag-isa lang siyang pipirma,” Gadon said.
“Kung pipilitin naman na pumirma yung gustong pumirma na hindi binabasa at hindi nasu-scrutinize yung attachments, lalabas naman yun na parang napilitan sila,” he added.
Gadon said his complaint would include Sereno’s alleged betrayal of public trust, an impeachable offense in the 1987 Constitution, on the Supreme Court’s “whimsical” and “excessive” purchase of the latest model of the Toyota Land Cruiser amounting to P5.1 million.
The luxury vehicle was purchased at P5.1 million even though it was only priced at P4.5 million, Gadon said.
“It appears that yung kotse, the same model, it’s only P4.5 million, and the Supreme Court paid P5.1 million. That is excluding the bullet proofing which will amount to P3 million more or less, according to some experts,” Gadon said.
Gadon said he did not want to commit the same mistake as the first impeachment complaint filers, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, whose members earlier today (Wednesday) filed an unverified impeachment complaint against Sereno without a House member’s endorsement.
This means the complaint may not be considered sufficient in form by the House justice committee which will deliberate on the form and substance of the complaint.
A verified endorsement of a House member is required before an impeachment complaint may be considered filed before the lower House.
In his un-submitted complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of corruption for using “public funds to finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle by ordering the purchase of a brand-new luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 model as her personal vehicle, amounting to more than P5 million.”
“Respondent Sereno was not content with the vehicles assigned to her, a fairly recent model of Toyota Camry sedan and a Hyundai Starexvan. She wanted more,” Gadon said.
Gadon said Sereno wanted a luxury vehicle on top of her “coterie of security personnel riding in separate vehicles and traffic escorts two motorcycles,” which were also purchased “using Supreme Court funds.”
Gadon said Sereno was allowed to buy the latest mode of the sports car even though the other Supreme Court magistrates have to be contented with a Toyota Camry or a Toyota Grandia.
“Early on as Chief Justice, Respondent Sereno already took a fancy at a luxurious sports utility vehicle, the latest model of a Toyota Land Cruiser, her dream car. Thus, after some dilly-dallying, she instructed the concerned office in the Supreme Court to purchase, for her personal use, the latest model of a brand-new Toyota Land Cruiser,” Gadon said.
“Her ‘equals,’ the other fourteen Magistrates of the High Court, however must be content with a Toyota Camry and a Toyota Grandia, or their equivalent,” he added.
The purchase of the luxury vehicle at an “exorbitant and grossly excessive price for her personal use,” Gadon said, only showed Sereno’s “injudiciousness, lack of economy and propriety, and grave abuse of discretion.”
“Sereno even ordered the bullet-proofing of the Land Cruiser, but only withdrew when news of her impending impeachment broke out,” Gadon added.
Gadon also accused Sereno of corruption for using taxpayers’ money to “stay in opulent hotels when attending conferences in the Philippines and abroad, and flying on business or first class together with her staff and security.”
“She used public funds to flaunt her extravagance by unnecessarily bringing a huge entourage of lawyers in her supposed official foreign trips,” Gadon said in the impeachment complaint.
Culpable violation of Constitution, SALN
Gadon said Sereno committed a culpable violation of the Constitution for allegedly failing to truthfully disclose her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
Gadon alleged that Sereno was “untruthful” because she “deliberately excluded” in her SALN alleged “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” amounting to $745,000 or P37 million she received from the Philippine government.
“Accordingly, the failure of Respondent Sereno to be truthful in her SALN is another instance of culpable violation of the Constitution that merits her immediate dismissal from the service,” Gadon said.
The issue of SALN declarations by magistrates is a sensitive issue since the late Chief Justice Renato Corona was convicted by Congress acting as an impeachment court for false declarations of wealth in his SALN.
Sereno is also accused of culpably violating of the Constitution when she “manipulated” the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council to exclude former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza over “personal and political reasons, thereby disgracing then Sol. Gen. Jardeleza, and curtailing the President’s power to appoint him.”
“Indeed, the gross and malicious manipulation of the JBC and disgracing of Justice Jardeleza by Respondent Sereno are culpable violations of the Constitution,” Gadon said.
Betrayal of public trust
Gadon accused Sereno of betraying the public trust for her “strongly-worded but misplaced reply” on President Rodrigo Duterte’s narcolist implicating judges in the drug trade, urging the magistrates not to surrender to police without an arrest warrant.
Gadon also alleged that Sereno “prevented the Justices of the Court of Appeals to do a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”
Gadon also cited Sereno’s message supposedly attacking Duterte’s martial law imposition in Mindanao, even when petitions questioning the martial law was then pending before the Supreme Court.
“She attacked the imposition of Martial Law in a commencement address, while the validity of Martial Law was still pending before the Supreme Court, and later continued to participate in the Court’s deliberations,” Gadon said.
Gadon also accused Sereno of “usurp(ing) the mandate of the Court en banc by arrogating to herself alone the running of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary, thereby destroying the Supreme Court as a collegial body.”
Other high crimes
Gadon also accused Sereno of committing other high crimes, when she allegedly “obstructed justice by ordering the Muntinlupa Judges not to issue warrants of arrest against Senator Leila M. De Lima.”
Sereno also allegedly “perverted justice” when she met with the Presiding Justice and Associate Justices of the Court of Appeals instructing them not to comply with the processes of the House of Representatives, which earlier issued a show cause order against the appellate justices who granted the writ of habeas corpus of the Ilocos Six.
The six provincial government officials of Ilocos Norte governor Imee Marcos had been ordered released from almost two months in House detention for contempt.
They were detained for 55 days refusing to answer questions on the House inquiry into the P66.45 million tobacco funds allegedly misspent on minicabs, buses and minitrucks.
READ: ‘Ilocos Six’ free to go
Gadon also accused Sereno of “fail(ing) to report her extortionate attorney’s fees and pay the appropriate taxes therefor,” as well as “embellish(ing) her Personal Data Sheet (PDS) in her application for the Judiciary to overstate her credentials.”