Chief Justice slammed over illegal appointments

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Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro seemed to have strengthened the impeachment complaint filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before the House of Representatives.

De Castro accused Sereno of making appointments without consulting the SC en banc that she said was illegal.

In January 2013, she called the Chief Justice a “congenital liar” for issuing an allegedly fake resolution, without concurrence of the en banc, on the creation of the Regional Court Administration Office in Cebu or RCAO Region 7.

Sereno is facing impeachment raps filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Vanguards of the Constitution and lawyer Lorenzo Gadon.

The complainants alleged , among others, that she lied in her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) and that she bought a luxury bullet-proof vehicle without the SC en banc’s approval.

De Castro took to task Sereno for the allegedly illegal appointment of lawyer Brenda Jay Angeles-Mendoza as chief of the Philippine Mediation Center Office (PMCO).

In a six-page internal memorandum of de Castro to Sereno, dated August 25, 2017, and obtained by The Manila Times, she asked her fellow justices to move against the schemes and practices of Sereno and stop the weakening of the powers of the SC en banc as a result of interference from the Chief Justice.

She said it is about time that the court en banc avert the continuing diminution of its constitutionally vested powers by setting clear guidelines on the appointment of ranking officials.

De Castro asked the SC en banc to “revoke” and “recall” the appointment of Mendoza as PMCO chief.

Mendoza’s appointment, she said, was made by Sereno without the approval of the SC en banc as a collegial body.

De Castro pointed out that Mendoza is the “first and only regular” PMCO chief appointed without a resolution from the Philippine Justice Association’s Board of Trustees and without the en banc’s approval in disregard of requirements of SC Administrative Order 33-2008.

She said the 1987 Constitution vested the SC en banc, not the Chief Justice alone, powers to appoint judicial officials.

The SC en banc is composed of the Chief Justice and its 14 associate justices.

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