Sereno camp says there’s no need to sign bank secrecy waiver
There is no need for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to sign a waiver of her bank secrecy rights, her spokespersons said Monday.
Over the weekend, Atty. Lorenzo Gadon said the Chief Justice should sign a waiver to allow investigative bodies to examine her bank assets.
Gadon, whose impeachment case against Sereno was recently declared by the House committee on justice as sufficient in grounds, stressed that the Chief Justice should do this, since she refuses to step down, to avoid the inconvenience of an impeachment trial.
In his complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of hiding her earnings from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 expropriation case when she was a private lawyer representing the government. Sereno had previously worked in the legal team led by retired SC Justice Florentino Feliciano in the arbitration case involving the expropriation.
Sereno reportedly earned at least $336,287.66 or more than P16 million legal service fees, according to records from a case involving payment of attorney’s fees in the arbitration case. Gadon stressed in his impeachment complaint that Sereno made no declaration of the legal service fees in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).
Atty. Josa Deinla said in the standard form under the SALN is a waiver allowing the Office of the Ombudsman and other bodies to examine the Chief Justice’s assets.
“Hindi na kailangan [ng waiver] dahil may standard form na sa SALN authorizing the Ombudsman and other investigative bodies to conduct an examination,” Deinla said at a press conference held in Manila.
The camp of the Chief Justice maintained that Sereno is living within her means, dismissing Gadon’s accusation that she has a lavish lifestyle.
“She has been among the foremost proponents of establishing a culture of modesty and respect for public funds in the Supreme Court. She has instituted reforms in the judiciary and has asserted and defended the independence of the judicial branch of government,” Atty. Carlo Cruz, another spokesperson of Sereno, said.
The impeachment complaint also stated that Sereno committed culpable violation of the Constitution when she allegedly falsified a resolution of the High Court and a restraining order in two pending cases filed before the SC.
The Chief Justice is also accused of betraying public trust for bypassing the SC en banc in her administrative orders.
Gadon referred to Sereno’s administrative order creating the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and reopening the Regional Administration Office (RCAO) in the Western Visayas without approval of the SC en banc. The order was later revoked by the SC.
Despite these accusations, Sereno appears to be defiant towards calls made by Gadon who said in a television interview last month that she should “just resign to avoid the humiliation and all the inconvenience of this impeachment trial.” /je