THE justice committee of the House of Representatives has formally accused Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno of six impeachable offenses anchored largely on her failure to submit her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth and usurping the collegial authority of the Supreme Court.
This developed after 33 lawmakers voted in favor of the unnumbered House resolution containing the six Articles of Impeachment against a lone dissenter. Among the 33 lawmakers who voted in favor of Sereno’s impeachment was former president-turned-Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo.
The six Articles of Impeachment are:
1. Failure to submit SALN to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which screens applicants for the Chief Justice and failure to declare properties in Bataan and Davao City;
2. Misuse of P18 million in public funds on the purchase of a bulletproof Land Cruiser, hiring of information technology consultant Helen Macasaet and selection of Shangri-La Boracay for 3rd Asean Chief Justices’ meeting;
3. Usurping the authority of the Supreme Court as a collegial body by creating a Regional Office of Court Administrator, issuing a Temporary Restraining Order on the case of Coalition of Senior Citizens party-list and transferring Maute cases from Marawi to Taguig City without en banc approval;
4. Abusing position as ex-officio chair of the JBC by excluding the name of then Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza;
5. Interference in the inquiry by the House of Representatives on the alleged misuse of P66 million in tobacco funds by Ilocos Norte government employees because of a Court of Appeals stay order on the House investigation and undermining the House justice panel’s impeachment proceedings and;
6. Tyrannical abuse of discretionary power as stated in the testimony of psychologist Geraldine Tria based on Sereno’s psychological exam results.
“These six articles are anchored on strong evidence, documentary and testimonial that will stand trial,” said House Committee on Justice Chairman Rey Umali of Oriental Mindoro during the House justice panel hearing on Monday.
“We have almost accomplished and fulfilled our mandate in initiating the impeachment proceeding, albeit, short of impeaching the Chief Justice as we still need to vote upon the matter in plenary,” Umali added.
The House Committee on Rules headed by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte has 10 session days to recommend the Articles of Impeachment for plenary deliberation and voting. The House will then have 60 session days or five months at maximum to decide whether or not to impeach Sereno and elevate her case to the Senate, which will sit as a court to try her. LLANESCA T. PANTI