Graft case filed over failure to submit SALN ‘another pathetic act’ — Sereno camp
As the camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno maintains that she would not heed calls for her resignation, Sereno’s spokespersons dismissed the latest graft complaint filed against her by a group of lawyers as “another pathetic act” to remove her from office.
“The graft complaint filed by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari and VACC (Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption) legal counsel Manuelito Luna with the Office of the Ombudsman is another pathetic act by the detractors of Chief Justice Sereno to remove her from office or to force her to resign by all means regardless of what the law and the Constitution say,” Sereno’s spokespersons said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We view this stunt as another abuse of court process, multiplicity of actions and forum shopping to again harass, bully and humiliate the Chief Justice because they know that the impeachment case against her is fatally defective and is bound to fail,” they added.
Mallari and Luna filed a graft complaint against Sereno, former President Benigno Aquino III and two Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) officials for the appointment of Sereno as Chief Justice in 2012.
The complainants claimed Sereno was unqualified for the position as she allegedly failed to comply with the requirements such as the submission of her complete statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
They specifically accused Aquino and the JBC members of giving “unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to Sereno through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, in violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.”
During Sereno’s application for the post of Chief Justice in 2012, she wrote a letter to the JBC asking for an exemption from submitting her SALN as her records when she was still a University of the Philippines (UP) law professor, could no longer be located.
But Sereno’s camp said she submitted three SALNs since her appointment as SC Associate Justice in 2010.
Meanwhile, Sereno’s camp questioned why the complaint did not include some members of the JBC, including then acting JBC chair Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, who testified against Sereno in the House hearings, when they were the ones who approved Sereno’s application.
“It is interesting to note that the complaint filed by Mr. Mallari and Luna only named former President Aquino, the Chief Justice, JBC executive director Annaliza Ty-Capacite and JBC selection and nomination chief Richard Pascual as respondents, and not the members of the JBC, particularly then acting chair Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta who signed the endorsement letter submitted to Malacañang containing the list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice, which included the names of then Associate Justice Sereno and seven other candidates,” it said.
“We reiterate that Chief Justice Sereno will not resign and succumb to this kind of pressure. She is confident that the truth is on her side,” they said. /muf