• Palace keeps off Sereno oust rap

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    Malacañang on Thursday said it would let the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno run its course at the House of Representatives.

    Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella issued the statement after 25 congressmen on Wednesday endorsed the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno before the chamber.

    “A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement by any member of the House of Representatives,” Abella said in a statement.

    “The executive branch respects the separation of powers and, being their co-equal, we recognize the exclusive power of the House of Representatives to initiate all cases of impeachment,” he added.

    The complainant, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, filed the verified complaint at the office of the House Secretary General, having vowed earlier to get at least 10 members to endorse it.

    Gadon said his complaint involved Sereno’s alleged betrayal of public trust, an impeachable offense under the 1987 Constitution, over the Supreme Court’s “whimsical” and “excessive” purchase of the latest model of the Toyota Land Cruiser amounting to P5.1 million, as well as her alleged failure to declare “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” allegedly amounting to $745,000, or P37 million.

    The luxury vehicle was purchased at P5.1 million even though it was only priced at P4.5 million, he added.

    The Supreme Court earlier approved requests from Gadon and other groups to release documents that would back their impeachment complaint.

    Gadon said he expects to get more documents, including Sereno’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth from 2010 onward, in the coming days.

    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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