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Sereno calls for impartiality in tackling impeachment rap
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is facing an impeachment complaint filed by Duterte Youth lawyer Larry Gadon. Edd Gumban
MANILA, Philippines – Hounded by an impeachment complaint filed by Duterte Youth lawyer Larry Gadon, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno asked the members of the Congress to exercise sobriety and impartiality on weighing on the merits of the case against her.
“We remain hopeful that our Congress will decide based on the merits of the case, and affirm their commitment to our democracy over partisan or parochial interests,” a statement released by Sereno’s spokesperson, Atty. Carlo L. Cruz reads.
The House of Representatives' Committee on Justice on Wednesday deemed the impeachment complaint filed by Gadon, a defeated senatorial candidate for Marcos-era Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, to be sufficient in form and substance.
Gadon said that Sereno should be impeached for committing culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.
But Sereno’s team maintained that “none of the allegations rises to an impeachable offense.”
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“Contrary to the findings of the House Committee on Justice, none of Gadon’s allegations in the complaints is true,” Cruz added.
It was also pointed out that: “We further understand that the determinations of the House Committee appear to be inconsistent with its findings and actions in similar proceedings in the past. These shall be addressed as well in the answer to be filed.”
Impeachment complaint a political spectacle
Cruz also branded the impeachment complaints to “maximize the political spectacle, with the goal of eroding her credibility through innuendos and malicious allegations.”
“This is detrimental to the independence of the judiciary upon whom all citizens rely to defend their rights and to check any abuse,” Cruz added.
Sereno was in loggerheads with President Rodrigo Duterte last year when the chief executive named a number of judges to be involved in the drug trade. The chief justice, in a letter addressed to Duterte, stressed the separation of the executive and the judiciary, while assuring that the judiciary launched a probe in the identified judges.
The two complaints emanated from two known supporters of Duterte: Gadon, and the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI). However, the House of Representatives dismissed the complaint filed by VACC and VPCI for being insufficient in form.
Sereno has lived a modest lifestyle
Cruz also asserted that, contrary to accusations that the chief magistrate has led lavish lifestyle during her travels, Sereno “has always lived a modest, god-fearing lifestyle. She has followed her oath of office and conducted herself with strict faithfulness to that oath.”
“She has been among the foremost proponents of establishing a culture of modesty and respect for public funds in the Supreme Court,” Cruz added.
Sereno first addressed the impeachment complaint against her in the "CJ Meets the Press" event in Cebu last August 24. She asserted that she “has done nothing wrong.”
“I have always lived a life of modesty. I have been prudent in use of the court's resources all the expenses for judicial reform, my travels, my security requirements are all regular and above board," Sereno said.
Cruz, however, maintained that Sereno will continue carrying out her duties as the highest magistrate in the land. “In the meantime, the Chief Justice continues to discharge her duties with fairness, integrity, and humility,” he added.