MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday said the leaders of the House of Representatives held hostage the budget of the judiciary as they tried to ensure cooperation in removing her from office.
Sereno said the time when complainant Lorenzo Gadon requested certified true copies of documents from the Supreme Court coincided with deliberations on the budget for the judiciary.
Gadon was behind the impeachment complaint against Sereno, where he accused her of, among others, leading a lavish lifestyle, failing to properly disclose her assets, and other alleged administrative lapses.
In her speech, Sereno said SC spokesperson Theodore Te told her that House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas had told high court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez "had ordered the suspension of the deliberations of the budget of the judiciary unless all the documents that the complainant requested from the Supreme Court would be released."
"The message was clear: the House leadership was going to hold hostage the judiciary’s budget unless the Supreme Court cooperated fully with its plan to remove me," she said in a forum at the University of the Philippines Tuesday, hours after the high court affirmed its decision to oust her.
She said she filed a no-objection response to the request because she was intent at securing funds for a reform project and was confident that she had nothing to hide.
“Looking back, perhaps, it was naive of me to think that congressmen and women would take time to pore over the documents with a genuine interest in uncovering the truth rather than blindly following the House leadership," she said.
House lawmakers in March ruled that there was enough grounds to impeach Sereno, but the Supreme Court granted the quo warranto petition against her before the articles of impeachment could be transmitted to the Senate.
With the finality of the high court ruling, Alvarez said the impeachment complaint would be sent to the chamber's archives.
Fariñas, in a statement, debunked as "crazy" Sereno's claims.
"The statement of Atty. Maria Lourdes Sereno sounds cunningly crazy even from her! First, her statement is quadruple hearsay," he said.
Fariñas said the SC budget was approved last year in under an hour.
"Finally, to show her propensity for falsehood, the proposed Budget of the Supreme Court was approved instantaneously in the committee on August 7, 2017. It was approved in an hour on Plenary on September 6, 2017, with only Minority Leader Danilo Suarez making an interpellation," he said.
"I hope the Media will unmask her malice in playing herself as a victim in furtherance of her desire to run for the Senate!" he added. - With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News