Speaker denies personal vendetta vs CJ Sereno

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2017 01:54 PM

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez denied Monday that he is out for revenge against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who once testified against him in connection to an allegedly anomalous deal. 

"Hindi naman ako ang nag-file ng complaint [laban kay Sereno]. Ako ay nagkataon lang na ako ay Speaker ngayon at hindi ko naman puwedeng i-dismiss iyung mga reklamong impeachment laban sa kanya, ito ay dadaan talaga sa proseso," Alvarez told DZMM. 

(I was not the one who filed the complaint. It was only coincidence that I am the current Speaker and that I cannot simply dismiss the cases against here as these should undergo due process.)

Alvarez, a former senior assistant general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, was accused of awarding the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 build-operate-transfer contract to Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco).

Sereno, as co-counsel of the Office of the Solicitor General, represented the government in arbitration proceedings against Piatco, where the firm eventually lost and was ordered to pay some P1 billion. 

Watchdog group Filipino Alliance for Transparency and Empowerment (Fate) said Sereno also testified against Alvarez in a separate plunder case, claiming that the Piatco deal was "grossly disadvantageous to the government."

The top magistrate received P30 million professional fee from the government for the Piatco case. 

Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon has sought Sereno's ouster for her alleged failure to declare the fee in her 2010 statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN). 

Fate spokesperson Jo Perez said Alvarez may use the upcoming impeachment complaint to get back at Sereno. 

"Alam naman na nating lutong Macau at may ginagapang talaga.... Base sa nangyari noon sa Piatco deal na iyan, kumbaga e parang gumaganti itong si Speaker kay CJ Sereno," Perez said in a separate DZMM interview. 
Alvarez, for his part, said he had no ax to grind against Sereno because the Sandiganbayan dismissed the plunder cases against him. 

The Speaker also accused Fate of diverting the public's attention from the allegations against the Supreme Court chief. 

"Iyang Fate na iyan, ngayon lang sumulpot iyan, parang kabute iyan na itinayo lang para dito sa impeachment hearing ni Sereno. Iyan ay trabaho ng PR, pilit inililihis ang usapin," he said. 

(That Fate is like a mushroom that sprang overnight. It was created solely for this impeachment hearing against Sereno. That is the work of public relations, they are attempting to muddle the issue.)

"Ang ma-a-advise ko sa kanila, hintayin na lang mag-umpisa ang committee hearing dahil bibigyan naman talaga si Sereno ng pagkakataon para sagutin lahat ng mga akusasyon laban sa kanya."
(I advise them to just wait for the justice committee to start hearing the case against Sereno because she will be given the opportunity to answer the charges.) 

Earlier this month, the House panel found Gadon's impeachment complaints against Sereno sufficient in form and substance, despite the use of newspaper clippings as evidence. The lawmakers will now proceed on the determination of probable cause of the impeachment complaint.

Sereno has said she is not bothered by the impeachment complaint as the truth is "on her side."
Her lawyers also said her Piatco fee did no appear in full in her 2010 SALN because she received it in several tranches.