25 lawmakers endorse Sereno impeach rap

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2017 07:13 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2017 11:03 AM

MANILA - Twenty-five lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed the impeachment complaint that lawyer Lorenzo Gadon filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. 

This was confirmed to ABS-CBN News by Gadon and House of Representatives Secretary General Cesar Pareja. The endorsement paves the way for the impeachment process against Sereno to begin. 

"As of 6:30 tonight my complaint against CJ Sereno for impeachment has been received by the HoR Office of the SecGen. In so short a time we gathered 25 endorsers and tomorrow more endorsers will sign," Gadon told reporters.

The congressmen endorsers were Cebu Rep. Gwen Garcia, South Cotabato Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez, Palawan Rep. Frederick Abueg, Davao City Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano, Coop-Natcco Rep. Anthony Bravo, Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco “Bingo” Matugas II, Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, LPGMA Rep. Arnel Ty, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr., Malabon City Rep. Federico Sandoval II, Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Mayo Almario, Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, Quezon City Rep. Vincent Crisologo, South Cotabato Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr., Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo. Palawan Rep. Gil Acosta, Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Ann Hofer, Quezon City Rep. Winnie Castelo, PBA Rep. Jericho Nograles, Manila Rep. John Nieto, Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, Davao Occidental Rep. Lorna Bautista Bandigan, and Cavite Rep. Jennifer Barzaga.

In his complaint, Gadon alleged that Sereno failed to make truthful declarations in her statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth or SALN—the same allegation that got her predecessor, the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona, ousted from office.

"Strongest ko diyan yung SALN. Hindi tama 'yung dineclare na assets and liabilities, the probability of the taxes not being paid sufficiently and that 'yung mga travel expenses and allowances given to her staff on travel …and yung resolutions ng SC na mismong ibang justices ay kinuwestyon because di ito dumaan sa en banc," Gadon alleged.

He also accused Sereno of alleged falsification of Supreme Court documents; delayed action on the petitions for retirement benefits of justices, judges and the surviving spouses of deceased justices and judges; alleged manipulation and delay in resolving the request of the Secretary of Justice to transfer the Maute cases outside of Mindanao; and alleged manipulation of the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council among others.

Gadon also accused Sereno of corruption over the alleged use of judiciary funds in the purchase of a new vehicle amounting to more than P5 million; alleged use of public funds to stay in expensive hotels when attending local and foreign conferences; flying on business or first class with her staff and security; and bringing a huge entourage of lawyers in her official foreign trips.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke of an official outside the executive department who had lavish travels overseas. Asked about the President's remarks, Sereno said she did not feel alluded to, adding that she has "lived a life of modesty." 

Gadon also made other accusations against Sereno, including alleged obstruction of justice by ordering Muntinlupa judges not to issue warrants of arrest against the now detained Sen. Leila De Lima; alleged failure to report her attorney’s fees and to pay the appropriate taxes; and alleged embellishment of her personal data sheet.

Sereno has yet to release a statement, as of this posting. -- with a report from Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News