Sereno got P30-million Piatco case fee in tranches, only portion declared in 2010 SALN: lawyers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2017 06:17 PM

MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno received in tranches her P30-million fee for serving as government counsel in arbitration proceedings against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco), builder of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3, her legal team said Wednesday. 

Sereno's lawyer Josa Deinla said this was among reasons why the full amount does not appear in Sereno's 2010 statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN), which was used as basis for an impeachment complaint that lawyer Larry Gadon filed against the chief magistrate. 

She added that over the course of 5 years, Sereno also incurred expenses, such as hospitalization and funeral costs for her parents, her purchase of properties, investments, and other regular household and family expenses.

"It (P30 million) would not remain intact because ginastos na niya. Maraming expenses ang mga tao. Marami siyang pinaggagastusan, hindi lang 1 year, kundi in 5 years. And she received the amount not in lump sum ha, but periodically," Deinla told ANC's Headstart on Wednesday.

Lawyer Winnie Salumbides, meanwhile, said he is puzzled by Gadon's accusation that Sereno did not pay the correct taxes when the Piatco payment already had withholding taxes. He added that the Chief Justice had a tax credit because she paid more than what was due.

The Sereno camp emphasized that, in accordance with the law, the Chief Justice declared in her SALN her assets and liabilities at the time she was declaring it, or what was left of the money she had been paid.

The allegation that she had made misdeclarations in her SALN is considered the strongest in the Gadon complaint as her predecessor, the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, was impeached and put on trial over the same charges. 

Deinla and Salumbides reiterated that Gadon's impeachment complaint was based on "bare-faced" lies from unverified sources, as they answered each accusation against the Chief Justice during the ANC interview.

They said Sereno is a target for impeachment because of her position, conviction, independence and conscience, as evident in rulings of the Supreme Court that were unfavorable to former President Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino III, who had appointed her in 2012. 

Gadon's complaint alleges that Sereno had committed culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes for allegedly lying in her SALN, falsification of High Court documents, delayed court action, alleged use of judiciary funds for a P5-million vehicle, and luxury travels, among others.