THE Supreme Court (SC) en banc has approved requests for the release of documents in connection with impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The court, however, opted not to release the certified true copy of the memorandum of Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, questioning Sereno’s delayed and questionable appointments and their lack of en banc or full-court approval, as well as supposedly questionable travels abroad.
A case involving these matters is still pending before the high court, assigned to Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
Two groups – the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. – are pushing for the removal of Sereno from office and had asked the en banc clerk of court, lawyer Felipa Anama, for certified true copies of court documents involving the actions of the chief justice.
The documents requested were:
De Castro’s memorandum to the court en banc dated July 10, 2017 asking for a review of Sereno’s administrative orders regarding the appointment of Brenda Jay Mendoza as chief of the Philippine Mediation Center Office, without approval of the full court;
De Castro’s memorandum assailing frequent foreign travels and grant of allowance to Maria Lourdes Oliveros and other staff members of Sereno, again without en banc approval, and lambasting Sereno for delays in filling up the posts of deputy clerk of court, chief attorney and two positions for assistant court administrator;
en banc resolution in A.M. 12-11-9-SC supposedly adopted on Nov. 27, 2012, forming the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and re-opening the Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO) in Central Visayas;
subsequent en banc resolution recalling A.M. 12-11-9-SC;
De Castro’s memorandum to the court en banc in December 2012 seeking the recall of Sereno’s administrative order creating the JDO and re-opening the RCAO;
Sereno’s memorandum on the appointment of Solomon Lumba as Chief Justice Staff Head II;
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s letter withdrawing his signature in the appointment of Lumba as Chief Justice Staff Head II; and en banc resolution forming the Needs Assessment Committee in connection with the planned decentralization of the functions of the Supreme Court in support of its power of administrative supervision over lower courts.
The VACC and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution have accused the chief justice of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for her actions at the helm of the judiciary.
The complaint has yet to be endorsed by any member of the House of Representatives, after Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas asked for certified true copies of court documents.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon has also filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno in connection with her purchase of a bulletproof luxury vehicle and the non-declaration of her earnings from her stint as part of the government’s legal team in the government case involving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.