CHIEF Justice on leave Maria Lourdes Sereno has raised eyebrows at the Supreme Court after claiming overtime pay for her security detail and staff despite her indefinite leave of absence.
Sereno, through her Judicial Staff Head Czarina Samonte-Villanueva, wanted the government to shoulder the expenses of her entourage from March 1 to 31, 2018, the period when she started her leave.
In a four-page memorandum for Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, dated April 10, 2018, Deputy Clerk of Court Corazon Ferrer-Flores, the Fiscal Management and Budget Office head, asked the court en banc to rule on Sereno’s request.
The en banc or full court will discuss the matter in Baguio City during its regular session today (Tuesday).
Certifications on overtime work were made by Samonte-Villanueva and Sereno’s security chief, retired brigadier general Jose Johriel Cenabre.
Since March 1, Sereno has been making public appearances nationwide to speak out against efforts to remove her from office either through impeachment or a quo warranto case questioning her qualifications, which is pending before the high tribunal.
Samonte-Villanueva sought allowances and overtime pay for 11 court staff and 13 drivers and close-in security aides. Sereno’s office also sought meal and expense allowances for nine close-in security aides.
Flores informed the court that since Sereno was on leave, she could be committing an impropriety by requesting overtime pay for her staff.
“We respectfully submit that, if a Member of the Court goes on leave of absence and, therefore, does not report for work, a coterminous personnel assigned to the Member should not be paid for overtime service considering that the purpose for rendering overtime service, which is to provide staff support to the Member of the Court, does not exist.”
‘Finding not the same as filing’
Also on Monday, Solicitor General Jose Calida reiterated that Sereno failed to file her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth when she was teaching law at the University of the Philippines.
Earlier, lawyer Josalee Deinla, one of Sereno’s spokesmen, disclosed that at least 11 of the 21 missing SALNs have been found by the Sereno prior to Calida’s submission of the top magistrate’s SALNs to the Supreme Court on March 27, 2018.
This was disputed by Calida, who said that “finding” was different from “filing.”
“In her 20 years as a UP law professor, Sereno failed to file her SALN eleven times,” Calida said in a statement.
“If Sereno indeed filed her SALNs, why can’t she just produce them?” he said.