Ex-President Aquino, CJ Sereno charged with graft

MANILA Former President Benigno Noynoy S. Aquino III and incumbent Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. Aranal Sereno were charged with graft before the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday.

Eligio Mallari, a suspended lawyer affiliated with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), led the filing of the graft complaints before the Ombudsman together with VACC lawyer Manuelito Luna.

The complaints were based on the claims of two SC associate justices that Sereno should not have been included in the list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice in 2012 for not being able to fully comply with all the requirements for the application to the position.

During the last hearing of the House Committee on Justice on the impeachment complaint against Sereno, the two SC justices said the top magistrate did not submit to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALNs) from 1986 to 2006, when she was a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law.

Then President Aquino appointed Sereno on Aug. 16, 2010 as the 169th SC Justice and as the 24th Chief Justice of the SC on Aug. 24, 2012.

Likewise, named respondents are JBC Executive Officer Annaliza Capacite and former Chief of Office Selection and Nomination Richard Pascual.

During the House hearings, Capacite said Sereno only submitted her SALNs from 2009 to 2011.

In his 12-page complaint-affidavit, Mallari called Sereno as a de facto chief justice for being appointed without being able to accomplish all the needed requirements to be included in the list of nominees.

According to the Rules of Court, the government can initiate quo warranto proceedings against a person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office; a public person who commits an act that serves as a ground for the forfeiture of the position; or an association which acts as a corporation in the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority to act.

A quo warranto proceeding is a legal proceeding, where someone's right to hold an office or governmental privilege is challenged.

"Sereno's conspiracy with Capacite and Pascual may be inferred from the facts. She also acted in bad faith when she sought exemption from the 10-year SALN requirement with the Executive Committee of the JBC though not entitled thereto for not attempting to comply," Mallari's complaint-affidavit said.

In his complaint, Mallari said Aquino's appointment of Sereno caused undue injury to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo de Castro, and retired Associate Justices Roberto Abad and Arturo Brion.

"Aquino III had violated sec. 3(e), R.A. 3019 just by causing undue injury to Carpio, Velasco, Leonardo-De Castro, Abad, and Brion and the Government not only for turning a blind eye on then-justice Sereno's non-compliance with the JBC's 10-year SALN requirement, but also for disregarding her dismal psychiatric examination result of 4," Mallari said.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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