Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza on Monday accused Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno of committing treason when she used a confidential document to block his appointment to the high court.
Jardeleza, in his testimony before the House justice panel hearing the impeachment complaint against Sereno, said the chief justice wanted him removed from the shortlist of nominees for the post vacated by Associate Justice Roberto Abad because of his actions during the arbitration of the case filed by the Philippines at The Hague in connection with the West Philippine Sea.
He said Sereno believed that he struck out 14 paragraphs from the memorandum on the Hague ruling that detailed why Itu Aba should be excluded from Manila’s arbitration case against China.
Jardeleza served as solicitor general under the Aquino administration.
“March 24 (2014), pinulong kami ng Pangulo at noong sinabi niya na isama na ang amendments sa ruling, nag-email ako kaagad na isama. Ano po ang paratang sa akin? Ang paratang po ay nakasaad sa supplemental comment ng CJ; ang part 2 ay statement of the CJ on integrity objection. Noong pumanig ako na huwag isama ang 14 paragraphs sa Hague ruling, ako ay “disloyal to the republic (In March we had a meeting with the President and he told us to include he amendments in the ruling. I immediately e mailed that it should be included. What was her case against me? It was laid down in her supplemental comment. When I acceded to exclude the 14 paragraphs, I was disloyal to the republic)” he said. ”Our case at the Hague was a purely executive department activity. The judiciary had no hand in it. How did the CJ secure a copy? Who gave it to her? Why did she use a classified document? She was not part of the arbitration. She used a legally-secured document. I am throwing back her accusation of being disloyal to the government. You were the one who committed treason, you had no qualms in using a secret document. If that’s not treason, I don’t know what is,” Jardeleza said.
Associate Justice Teresita de Castro, who also appeared at the House hearing, admitted that the Chief Justice “does a lot of things which we cannot understand.”
But she said former President Benigno Aquino 3rd shuld not be blamed for appointing Sereno.
“I cannot completely blame the President for appointing Sereno, because the JBC (Judicial and Bar Council) included her in the shortlist. If the JBC didn’t include her, there is no way she’ll be appointed. The JBC should exercise functions under the Constitution with highest degree of competence. It was a disappointment knowing she has only served two years as an associate justice. The Chief Justice must be someone who is trustworthy because we cannot be forever looking over her shoulder if she has accurately note down the decision reached by en banc in executive session,” she said.