Graft raps vs. Sereno another ‘pathetic act’

MANILA The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday said the graft complaint filed against the top magistrate filed before the Office of the Ombudsman is another pathetic act of her detractors to force her to resign from the judiciary's top post.

Eligio Mallari, a suspended lawyer affiliated with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) together with the group's counsel Manuelito Luna on Monday filed graft complaints against Sereno and former President Benigno Aquino III before the Ombudsman.

The graft complaint filed by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari and VACC legal counsel Manuelito Luna with the Office of the Ombudsman is another pathetic act by the detractors of Chief Justice Sereno to remove her from office or to force her to resign by all means regardless of what the law and the Constitution say, lawyer Josa Deinla, one of the Sereno's spokesperson said in a statement.

We view this stunt as another abuse of court process, multiplicity of actions and forum shopping to again harass, bully and humiliate the Chief Justice because they know that the impeachment case against her is fatally defective and is bound to fail, she added.

Deinla said Mallari and Luna should revisit the law and the Constitution to remind them that as an impeachable officer, the Chief Justice is immune from suit and may only be removed from office through an impeachment.

Mallari, who was suspended by the Supreme Court from practicing law for two years, had also requested earlier the Office of the Solicitor General to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against the Chief Justice in connection with her appointment in 2012.

Deinla said she is wondering why only Sereno and Aquino were named respondents in the graft complaint while the members of the Judicial and Bar Council were not included in it.

It is interesting to note that the complaint filed by Mr. Mallari and Luna only named former President Aquino, the Chief Justice, JBC executive director Annaliza Ty-Capacite and JBC selection and nomination chief Richard Pascual as respondents, and not the members of the JBC, particularly then acting chair Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta who signed the endorsement letter submitted to MalacaAang containing the list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice, which included the names of then Associate Justice Sereno and seven other candidates, she noted.

Deinla reiterated that Sereno will not resign as Chief Justice, stressing that they are confident that the truth is still on her side.

We reiterate that Chief Justice Sereno will not resign and succumb to this kind of pressure. She is confident that the truth is on her side, the lady lawyer said.

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.

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), RA 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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