Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez are behind the filing of an impeachment complaint against her.
In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, Sereno said Duterte himself issued statements about her lavish lifestyle.
“Of course everybody knows what he said and I think at one time, he thought that Atty. (Lorenzo) Gadon’s complaints regarding my extravagant lifestyle had some basis and then he kept quiet about it. So let us just say that I understand that he has also asked me and the Ombudsman to resign at the same time,” she said, adding she has no idea why the President wants her out.
“We have had no personal skirmish at all. The only time I remember that he made a remark against me was in connection with the letter I wrote to him in August 2016, requesting that due process be afforded the judges,” she said. “Basically I was emphasizing the need to defend the institutions and to allow the institutions to conduct their own investigations of their errant members because the moment you announce the names of judges, you basically take them out of their functions.”
“So does he have a hand in this impeachment? Well I go by his official pronouncement and I wish him success as a President but I hope he understands that checks and balances are very, very important for any democracy,” the chief justice added.
She said Alvarez also wants her out as chief justice because she testified in the case of the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco), builder of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 3 (NAIA 3).
“I testified against the onerous terms of the contract that was signed between the government and PairCargo (later named Piatco), and Speaker Alvarez at the time was part of the committee that approved the terms of reference for the contract,” she recalled.
Alvarez was implicated in the awarding of the NAIA 3 build-operate-transfer contract to Piatco when he was senior assistant general manager of Manila International Airport Administration (MIAA).
Alvarez, former secretary of the Department of Transportation, was charged with plunder by a group of service contractors for allegedly gaining from the contract.
“Speaker Alvarez had a lot to do with the result of that bidding, and one of the cases in fact that was filed against him was precisely for the conflict of interest situation that he finds himself in. A company that his wife owned was the subcontractor for the construction (of Naia-3),” Sereno pointed out.
She described the accusations against her as “a bunch of lies and maintained that her conscience is clear.
“I think Atty. Gadon has and will have many problems arising from the fact that he has perjured himself multiple times,” Sereno said.
The House of Representative’s Committee on Justice will decide on Nov. 22 whether or not the impeachment complaint has probable cause.
Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia said House members are doing a fair job on the impeachment complaint against Sereno.
She explained that the House did not hold hearings when an impeachment complaint was filed against former Chief Justice Renato Corona because lawmakers merely gathered signatures and the articles of impeachment were then sent to the Senate for trial.
“This would be the first time that the committee will hold a hearing on the existence of probable cause. If we would indulge our thinking that the Speaker may try to sway us one way or the other, no hearings would be held,” Garcia said.
“The Speaker has allowed the process to play through. That is the clearest indication that there would be fair treatment on this impeachment complaint,” she added.
WITH RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA