Sereno's office defends staffer amid allegations of close ties


Posted at Jan 18 2018 07:19 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2018 10:52 PM

MANILA - The office of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday defended one of its staff members from being accused of taking advantage of her supposed close ties with the top magistrate to land a job at the Supreme Court. 

During Wednesday's hearing of the House justice committee on the impeachment complaint against Sereno, lawyer Joyce Fabian rejected complainant Lorenzo Gadon's allegation that she became chair of a technical working group (TWG) at the High Court due to her closeness with the Chief Justice. 

Fabian heads the High Court's technical working group on the special committee on retirement and civil service benefits, which is tasked to process the magistrates' retirement benefits.

Gadon alleged that she does not possess the right qualifications.

Fabian told lawmakers that she did not use connections to land a job at the Supreme Court, and instead submitted an application.

The Office of the Chief Justice, in a statement, said Fabian was found to be "more qualified" of the two applicants for the position and was appointed to the post in May 2013.

It said Sereno did not know that Fabian listed lawyer Aldwin Salumbides, one of the chief magistrate's spokespersons in connection with the impeachment case, as one of her references until it was revealed in the hearing.

The office also denied that Sereno and Fabian attend the same church.

"Atty. Fabian is a welcome asset to the Office of the Chief Justice, not to mention the judiciary as a whole, considering the experience and expertise she brought to public service after 29 long years in the private sector," it said.

"Atty. Fabian is unquestionably highly qualified and well-equipped to assist the judiciary in the identification and resolution of its financial concerns," it added.

"It is thus grave matter of concern that her integrity and values--even her Christian faith--are being unjustly besmirched."

Gadon is accusing Sereno of causing the delay in survivorship benefits as she allegedly created the TWG, which Fabian headed, where claims got stuck for about 2 years.

During Monday's hearing, Associate Justice Samuel Martires questioned the creation of the TWG, saying it was unnecessary as there was already a decision on the pension claims that he himself penned.