Sereno's non-filing of SALN a heavier charge, says ex-Corona defense lawyer

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2018 09:18 AM | Updated as of Mar 13 2018 09:52 AM

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MANILA - A lawyer who defended the late Chief Justice Renato Corona in the 2012 impeachment trial believes Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is facing a bigger case.

Lawyer Ramon Esguerra on Tuesday said Sereno's alleged non-filing of statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) is a heavier case than Corona's non-disclosure of wealth.

"Non-filing [of SALN] will be heavier. The Constitution and the law requires it. It behooves anyone in public service to file. It may go to the issue of probity and integrity," he told ANC.

Esguerra sees Sereno's SALN woes as the focus of the prosecution team of the House of Representatives when the impeachment raps, filed by lawyer Larry Gadon, reaches trial at the Senate.

Corona was convicted for failing to declare around $2.4 million in bank deposits. A separate account worth P80.7 million supposedly co-mingled with relatives was also excluded from his SALNs.

Sereno meanwhile is facing an impeachment complaint that questions her failure to file her SALN for a 17-year period during her stint as a University of the Philippines professor.

The filing of SALNs is required by law, provided for under Article XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Refusing to resign amid a mounting call for her to quit, the embattled Chief Justice vowed to answer all the issues thrown against her at the Senate.

The House justice committee is eyeing Esguerra, along with another former Corona defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador, to join their prosecution team.

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding judge of the Corona impeachment trial, has already volunteered to help the prosecution team in the case against Sereno.