Sereno camp: SC en banc approved regional office
The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno belied on Wednesday Associate Justice Teresita de Castro’s statement that the Supreme Court (SC) top magistrate issued an order that did not conform to the court en banc.
In an e-mailed response to De Castro’s statements at the resumption of the House hearing on her impeachment, Sereno’s camp said the SC en banc approved the creation of Regional Court Administrative Office (RCAO) in Region 7, contrary to what is being accused of her.
“It is false to say that the Chief Justice acted unilaterally and without the knowledge of the Court En Banc when she issued A.O. No. 175-2012,” Sereno’s lawyers said.
“Precisely, the creation of said office, its budget as well as the designation of its staff, had already been approved and delineated in earlier Resolutions of the Court,” they added.
According to her lawyers, Sereno “simply implemented these earlier Court En Banc resolutions creating an RCAO in the seventh judicial region, after studying the problems besetting far-flung courts.”
“Contrary to Complainant’s baseless allegations, there is no En Banc Resolution nullifying, superseding or otherwise ‘scrapping’ the Supreme Court’s resolutions creating the RCAO-7, including the assailed 27 November 2012 Resolution in A.M. No.12-11-9-SC,” they asserted.
In a separate interview, Sereno’s lead counsel, lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, said the chief justice did not falsify the administrative orders.
“Hindi po totoo ‘yan kasi kanina po nakita nyo hinahanapan ng minutes yung en banc. ‘Yung en banc po talaga walang nakakapasok na staff dun kundi mga justices. Ang nagno-note taking po dun si CJ Sereno,” Lacanilao told reporters in an ambush interview while the House justice panel hearing took a 30-minute break.
These notes, he said, reflected the orders which Sereno drafted for the SC en banc.
“Accurate po ‘yun according to her understanding of the decision nung panahon na ‘yun on the RCAO,” he said. “So wala po syang finake dun kasi kung finake po ‘yun, lahat po ng justices sana nagreklamo.”
Lacanilao said the differences between Sereno and De Castro’s opinions and claims should be an “internal matter” which the SC justices should “resolve among themselves internally.”
On November 27, 2012, Sereno issued Administrative Order No. 175-2012 creating the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and reopening the post of RCAO-7 Associate Justice.
De Castro said Sereno issued these orders “without getting the approval of the Supreme Court en banc.”
She said Sereno also appointed Geraldine Faith Econg, the court’s head of the program management office, as head of RCAO-7.
These orders are part of the basis of lawyer-complainant Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon for accusing Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption and other high crimes.