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25 congressmen endorse Sereno impeachment
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno Miguel De Guzman, File
MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-five members of the House of Representatives endorsed yesterday an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
The complaint, filed by lawyer Larry Gadon for alleged betrayal of public trust, was submitted to the House secretary general at around 6:30 p.m.
He said he expects more lawmakers to endorse the complaint today.
Those who endorsed the impeachment complaint against Sereno were House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu), Deputy Speaker Mylene Garcia Albano (Davao City), Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez (South Cotabato), Deputy Speaker Frederick Abueg (Palawan), Reps. Edgar Sarmiento (Samar), Anthony Bravo (COOP NATCCO party-list), Arnel Ty (LPGMA party-list), Rodito Albano (Isabela), Francisco Matugas III (Surigao del Norte), Aurelio Gonzales (Pampanga), Federico Sandoval (Malabon), Joel Almario (Davao Oriental), Romeo Acop (Antipolo City), Bingbong Crisologo (Quezon City), Pedro Acharon Jr. (South Cotabato), XJ Romualdo (Camiguin), Gil Acosta (Palawan), Ann Hofer (Zamboanga Sibugay), Winnie Castelo (Quezon City), Jericho Nograles (PBA party-list), John Marvin Nieto (Manila), Robert Ace Barbers (Surigao del Norte), Roger Mercado (Southern Leyte), Jennifer Barzaga (Cavite) and Lorna Bautista-Bandigan (Davao Occidental).
Rumors floated that 42 lawmakers would endorse the impeachment case.
Gadon said among the main points of the complaint was Sereno’s alleged failure to be honest in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), tax misdeclarations and unauthorized expenses.
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He expressed hope that the House led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez would gather 98 signatures or one-third of the 294 members needed for the complaint to be sent to the Senate for trial.
Gadon said it would be up to the House committee on justice chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali to evaluate the complaint.
This is the second impeachment complaint filed against Sereno.
Lawmakers have yet to endorse the first impeachment case filed by anti-crime watchdog Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.
It was not known whether the two complaints will be consolidated.
Gadon said he would get a copy of Sereno’s SALN from 2010 up to 2016 from the Supreme Court today.
Sereno was accused of violating the SALN law by not declaring at least P16 million in lawyer’s fees that she received when she was still counsel for the Philippine International Air Terminals Company Inc. or Piatco.
Sereno’s predecessor, the late former chief justice Renato Corona, was ousted from office for not truthfully declaring his wealth in his SALN.
“We also included in the complaint the luxury vehicle,” Gadon said, referring to the P8-million worth bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser of Sereno.
Gadon said former chief justices used to own cars amounting to P1.5 million.
Gadon also accused Sereno of corruption over the alleged use of public funds to stay in expensive hotels when attending local and foreign conferences; flying on business or first class with her staff and security; and bringing a huge entourage of lawyers in her official foreign trips.
Last week, President Duterte spoke of an official outside the executive department who had lavish travels out of the country. Asked about Duterte’s remark, Sereno said she did not feel alluded to as she has “lived a modest life.”
The House leadership vowed to subpoena Sereno’s psychological examination results from the independent screening body Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas earlier said.
“If the JBC will not give copies of her psychiatric report or the Bureau of Internal Revenue would not disclose her income tax returns, the House committee on justice can issue subpoena on them,” he said.
Sereno allegedly flunked the JBC’s psychological test in 2012.
The JBC psychological exam is a requirement for all applicants to judicial posts.