MANILA - The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday belied the allegation that she acted on her own in creating a regional court office in Central Visayas, insisting that it was approved by the Supreme Court en banc.
In a commentary released via e-mail, Sereno's lawyers said it is "false to say that the Chief Justice acted unilaterally and without the knowledge of the Court En Banc when she issued A.O. No. 175-2012."
The assailed administrative order sought to revive the Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO) in Region 7 as part of the high court's decentralization efforts.
"Precisely, the creation of said office, its budget as well as the designation of its staff, had already been approved and delineated in earlier Resolutions of the Court," said Sereno's lawyers.
"The Chief Justice, after studying the problems besetting far-flung courts, simply implemented these earlier Court En Banc resolutions creating an RCAO in the seventh judicial region," they added.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, in his impeachment complaint, accused Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution when she allegedly falsified Supreme Court resolutions, including A.O. No. 175-2012.
Contrary to his "baseless allegations," the Sereno camp said there was no en banc Resolution "nullifying, superseding or otherwise 'scrapping' the Supreme Court's resolutions creating the RCAO-7, including the assailed 27 November 2012 Resolution in A.M. No.12-11-9-SC."
Associate Justice Teresita De Castro earlier Wednesday told the House justice committee during a hearing on the impeachment complaint against Sereno that the top magistrate's administrative order in 2012 "did not conform" with the en banc decision in 2006.
De Castro said the en banc resolution created the RCAO in Central Visayas, but Sereno's administrative order created the Judiciary Decentralized Office for the same region.
"The Chief Justice cannot create an office… It’s a legislative power…It appears that she created a permanent office," she said.