Sereno slams SC justices’ testimonies in impeach hearing


MANILA — The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday slammed the testimonies of the magistrates of the Supreme Court (SC) who appeared before the House justice committee’s hearing on the impeachment proceeding filed against her.

During the impeachment proceedings, Associate Justices Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, and retired Associate Justice Arturo Brion on Monday made their first appearance before the House justice panel.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, on the other hand, made another appearance at the continuation of the proceeding.

Lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, one of Sereno’s spokespersons, reiterated that the statements of witnesses in the House hearings, including Clerk of Court Felipa Anama and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo – De Castro and Noel Tijam, only bolstered the perjury made by Atty. Larry Gadon in claiming that Tijam was the member-in-charge of the administrative case involving the request of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II regarding the transfer of Maute cases.

“Contrary to Gadon’s claim that Justice Tijam was the member-in charge of the transfer of Maute cases, Justice Tijam revealed that he was not the member-in-charge and that it was his understanding that the case was assigned to Chief Justice Sereno,” he explained.

They added the Chief Justice is the Member-in-Charge for this administrative matter and she did not and could not have “caused the matter to be raffled to her.”

“The Chief Justice is not the head, and is not even a member of the Raffle Committee. She has no participation at all in the raffle of cases,” the camp of Sereno said in a statement.

Tijam accused Sereno of “dilly-dallying” the resolution of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s request in May to have the cases tried in a court outside Mindanao by not bringing it immediately to the attention of the SC en banc.

De Castro, who is a member of the raffle panel, said the Maute case was not actually raffled on June 5, which is inconsistent with Sereno’s claim that she is the member in charge of the case.

“There is no rule allowing her to assign the case to herself,” De Castro said.

De Castro noted that since it is an important case, it should have been raffled, assigned, and taken up during an en banc session.

But Lacanilao said De Castro did not object to the raffle of the Maute case.

“Justice Teresita De Castro was the acting chair of the Raffle Committee on June 19, during which the Maute case was raffled. Justice De Castro also countersigned the raffle sheet on the same date and did not pose any objection. Neither did the two other members of the Raffle Committee posed any objection,” the camp of Sereno stressed.

Also the camp of Sereno denied manipulating the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to block the nomination of Associate Justice Jardeleza to the Supreme Court in 2014, Lacanilao said the Chief Justice, as ex officio Chairperson of the JBC, acted in good faith and in accordance with the JBC Rules in the matter of the nomination and subsequent appointment to the Supreme Court of then Solicitor General Jardeleza.

“The exclusion of then Solicitor General Jardeleza from the list was not because the Chief Justice supposedly “manipulated” the list. Justice Jardeleza was excluded because he did not obtain the unanimous vote required under Section 2, Rule 10 of JBC-009. The Chief Justice, in invoking Section 2, Rule 10 of JBC-009, did not act with malice. She was merely performing her duty as a member of the JBC to register her good faith opposition to the nomination of then Solicitor General Jardeleza, after receiving and painstakingly verifying reports on his stand in the West Philippine Sea arbitration between the Philippines and China. These reports had given her reasonable grounds to doubt his integrity and moral fitness to become a member of the highest court of the land,” they explained.

The camp of Sereno said that Jardeleza was given opportunity to explain his side.

“The Minutes of the Executive Session held on 30 June 2014 would show that then
Solicitor General Jardeleza was in fact given an opportunity to explain his side, which opportunity he refused to take on account of his position that he is entitled to a statement in writing of the charges against him,” the camp of Sereno said.

“The JBC’s good faith observation of its own interpretation of the procedure laid down in Rule 4, Sections 1 and 2 and Rule 5, Sections 1 and 2 of JBC-009 with respect to Justice Jardeleza’s right to be heard, shows that there was no “willful” or deliberate intention to violate Justice Jardeleza’s rights to due process,” they explained.

During the hearing, Jardelezatestifed on the allegation that Sereno manipulated the selection process of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to block his appointment to the high court.

Briontestifed on his concurring opinion that “CJ Sereno manipulated the JBC process to exclude Jardeleza as a nominee.”