Sereno slams House for power abuse
CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday submitted her reply to the impeachment complaint filed against her and accused the House of Representatives of “abuse of power,” saying it was exercising its impeachment power “without sufficient legal and factual basis.”
Lawyer Justin Mendoza went to the House of Representatives Secretary General’s office and filed Sereno’s 85-page answer to the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon. He called for its dismissal as the charge was not based on “authentic records” but “conflated hearsay derived from news reports.”
Meanwhile, Sereno’s camp on Monday said the allegations against her were based on “fake news.”
At a news conference in Quezon City, Carlo Cruz, Sereno’s lawyer-spokesman, said Sereno’s reply submitted to Congress maintained the “charges in [Lorenzo] Gadon’s complaint are utterly baseless because it is based not on authentic records, much less personal knowledge of the complainant, but on conflated hearsay derived from news reports.”
“This is nothing short of an impeachment exercise based on fake news.”
Another lawyer of Sereno, Alex Poblador, said Gadon’s accusations, including the purchase of a bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser, were not impeachable offenses under the 1987 Constitution.
“... the House of Representatives can impeach the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court only upon grounds provided in the Constitution; and it can do so only on the basis of law and evidence,” Sereno said in her reply filed in the House.
But the House “abuses that power by exercising it without legal and factual basis. By doing so, it would in effect place a co-equal branch at its mercy and imperil the very existence of our democratic form of government―a government which rests on the principle of independence and equality of three great branches of government.”
Gadon said Sereno should be impeached for having assets that were not disclosed in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth―the same reason why her predecessor, Chief Justice Renato Corona, was impeached and ultimately ousted.
Gadon also accused Sereno of extravagant spending of judicial funds, including her purchase of a Toyota Land Cruiser for P5 million and her first-class travel on airlines.
But Sereno said the complaint must be dismissed not only because “the charges were totally false but also because they do not constitute the grounds for impeachment under the Constitution.”
She said the members of the House committee on justice, headed by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, must act like judges who “decide on the basis of facts and law and not on the dictates of their political leaders in line with some political agenda.”
The camp of Sereno also dismissed as “totally outrageous” “all the charges leveled against the Chief Justice which they said was “intended to show that she is unfit for her office.”