Why buy bullet-proof vehicle? CJ Sereno only using bullet-proof blanket - lawyer

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2017 11:48 AM

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. File Photo

The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday described as "totally false and without basis" the impeachment complaint filed by Atty. Larry Gadon against the chief magistrate.

In a press conference, Atty. Alex Poblador said Gadon's accusations against the Chief Justice, including the purchase of a bulletproof Toyota Land Cruiser, are not impeachable offenses.

"The charges are totally false, absolutely without basis in facts and applicable law. The acts alleged do not even constitute grounds for impeachment under the Constitution," he said.

Poblador noted that the purchase of a bulletproof Land Cruiser was a non-issue "much less a ground for impeachment" since the entire Supreme Court en banc approved the acquisition.

He also said the Chief Justice, the President, House Speaker and Senate President are covered by a Department of Budget and Management circular that allows the purchase of luxury vehicles.

"It was acquired for purposes of security. You might want to know all these years, the Chief Justice has depended on hand-me-down vehicles. The Chief Justice using hand me down vehicles that break down regularly."

"Do you know what she does for her security? She has a bulletproof blanket hung over the window over her Starex van and a vest on one side so the other side is completely open. The husband purchased for her a bullet proof vest. That is how miserable her condition was. So why make an issue about the acquisition of this vehicle when it is exempted by law on the ban on acquisition of luxury vehicles and approved by the highest board of the land?"

Poblador said some of the "authentic documents" used in the Gadon complaint are newspaper clippings while other documents that came from the Supreme Court do not support any of the charges.

He cited for instance the release of En Banc Resolution in A.M. 12-11-9-SC supposedly adopted on Nov. 27, 2012 creating the Judiciary Decentralized Office and re-opening the Regional Court Administration Office in Central Visayas.

Poblador said that while the en banc resolution may be related to the charges filed by Gadon, the resolution does not prove that the decision ratifying the revival of the Region 7 court administration office was falsified "because he has no knowledge of the deliberations of the Supreme Court operations."

"There is no evidence based on personal knowledge of the alleged falsification," he said,

He also described as "illogical" the accusation that the Chief Justice would falsify a recommended draft of a temporary stay order "when under internal rules of the Supreme Court, during recess she has full power as Chief Justice to issue a TRO."

The House of Representatives committee on justice earlier found one of the two impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno sufficient in form and substance, despite the use of newspaper clippings as evidence.

Among the Supreme Court documents Gadon used in his complaint were official lists of Sereno's travel expenses and appointment letters.

Cited were the Supreme Court's purchase of a P5.1 million luxury vehicle for the chief justice, and Sereno's discrepancies on her statement of assets liabilities and net worth (SALN), arising from her attorney's fees in the Piatco Case.

Sereno's lawyers have submitted a written reply to Gadon's allegations.

In an earlier interview, Gadon said the purchase of the bullet-proof vehicle was too extravagant for a chief justice.

"You have to consider that President Duterte himself, the highest official in the land, did not buy a new vehicle. When he's in Davao he is just using a multicab and in Manila he is using the old car used by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo," he said in an ANC interview.

The lawyer has also accused Sereno of embellishing her personal data sheets, saying this is a high crime.

He also claimed at least 3 Supreme Court magistrates are willing to testify in the impeachment trial if summoned by lawmakers. He said the magistrates want to "save the judiciary."

The Chief Justice drew the ire of President Duterte when she made a statement against warrantless arrests, saying suspects should not be arrested without a warrant.

The President called the Chief Justice's remarks "dangerous" and having the potential to "promote anarchy," and went on to enumerate the legal bases for warrantless arrests.