De Castro testimony solid enough to impeach Sereno: Gadon Featured

MANILA — The testimony of Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro at the House of Representatives Justice Committee hearing is sufficient to prove the allegations against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, impeachment complainant lawyer Larry Gadon said.


De Castro testified against Sereno after she and other personnel were allowed by the SC to appear before the House hearing on the impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice.


Gadon said de Castro’s statements backed by documentary proofs were “uncontrovertible evidence”.


“The testimony of Justice Teresita de Castro is more than enough and sufficient to impeach Sereno. Her testimony, aside from being supported with documentary evidence, is tremendously strong since the issues under question are matters precisely within her knowledge as she herself was a direct participant in those matters of administrative orders and TRO (temporary restraining order) resolutions — a firsthand knowledge by direct participation,” he said.


Gadon claimed that the testimony of de Castro showed Sereno’s alleged culpable violation of the Constitution.


The lawyer admitted that he felt vindicated by the statements of the senior magistrate that validated most of his allegations in the impeachment complaint.
De Castro specifically cited Sereno’s AO issued on Nov. 27, 2012 creating the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and reopening the Regional Court Administrative Office (RCAO) in Region 7 in Cebu.


De Castro also testified on the TRO in the case involving the disqualification case of the Senior Citizens party-list group in the May 2016 elections.


She also testified on the merits of the decision she penned that declared unconstitutional the clustering of shortlisted nominees made by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) last year in connection with the vacancies in the Sandiganbayan.


De Castro has also been authorized by the Court to discuss the merits of her separate concurring opinion in the August 2014 ruling that voided the JBC’s decision not to include the name of then Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza on the shortlist of nominees for SC justice post after Sereno raised an integrity issue against him.


Gadon said with the charges against Sereno now based on solid evidence he reiterated his call for the chief magistrate to resign from her post to avoid further humiliation.


He said that if Sereno does not resign, he would file graft and corruption charges in connection with the hiring of IT consultants, found to be illegal.


“If she does not resign by Monday (Dec. 4), I am going to file graft and corruption cases against her and some of her minions in SC over the issue of the hiring of IT consultants which was found to be illegal,” he explained.


Gadon said he plans to file the cases next week if Sereno refuses to step down from her post.


He cited a fact-finding report submitted to the SC, which recommended that the contract amounting to about PHP10 million for the services of IT consultant Helen Perez – Macasaet be voided for “lapses in the procurement process”.


Weak complaint
Meanwhile, Integrated Bar of the Philippines National President Abdeil Dan Elijah Fajardo said that he found the impeachment complaint filed by Gadon against Sereno weak and lacking in substance.


Fajardo likened Gadon to a “summary writer” whom he said was really lacking personal knowledge as to the workings or the antecedents leading to decisions taken by the SC or its internal workings.


“At first, we wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to Atty. Gadon because he might really have something there.


But as it is turning out now, the complaint appears to be just a summary of what has been publicized either through newspaper reports or through blind items or rumors about the inner workings of the Supreme Court,” Fajardo said in a TV interview.


He cited Gadon’s claim that he received information against Sereno from Manila Times reporter Jomar Canlas, who supposedly got the same from de Castro.


Both de Castro and Canlas have denied such claim.


He said Gadon did not even appear as counsel or party to the cases heard by the high court that he is now talking about in his impeachment complaint against Sereno.


Fajardo reiterated his earlier stand that the impeachment process should be utilized judiciously, adding that using it too often might affect the independence required of the Judiciary.


He said the Chief Justice, whoever is sitting on the post, is just a human being, who because of the threat of impeachment, might not be able to comply with his or her constitutional duty due to the threat hanging over his or her head.


“If the highest member of the judiciary, no less than the chief justice, is threatened with impeachment in each decision and in each administrative matter, there might creep into that fear that he or she might displease the political powers and that therefore cannot comply with the constitutional duty to decide on cases based on the evidence of law,” the IBP chief said.


The 55,000-strong IBP last September said that while impeachment is allowed under the Constitution to exact accountability of impeachable officials, such as the President, Vice President, Chief Justice and the head of constitutional commissions such as the Comelec, it should be used sparingly so as not to dilute its power.


Confident Sereno
For her part, Sereno said those who stand with the truth should not be oppressed as she expressed confidence that God’s plan would prevail as she faces impeachment complaint over allegations on her wealth, living a lavish lifestyle, and falsifying the high court’s resolutions.


“I’m sure, as the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, that God’s plan will prevail. Indeed, I have seen with my own eyes how the Lord superintends everything so that the lies are uncovered, the truth is revealed, people are taking more courage and there is unity among brethren at last. There is an awakening in the Church and among our ordinary citizens,” Sereno said Thursday after the Mass at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice offered by her supporters at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.


The top magistrate admitted she did not expect that her fight would be the fight of every citizen, saying it inspired her not to give up.


“Sa akin pong mga kababayan na nagmamasid sa nangyayari ngayon, maraming maraming salamat po, pagkat nakita ko po, at kayo na rin po ang nagsabi na paulitulit, ‘Ang laban mo ay laban namin.’ Kaya paano po ako bibitiw, paano po ako manghihina ang loob, paano po ako lilisan at tatalikuran ang aking pananagutan sa bayan? (To my fellow Filipinos who are following recent events, thank you very much. I have seen how all of you are saying repeatedly that my fight is your fight, too. How can I quit then? How can I be faint of heart? How can I afford to leave and abandon my responsibility to the country?)” Sereno said.


“Ako po ay niluklok para pangalagaan ang hustisya, bantayan ang independensya ng hudikatura, pangalagaan ang mga kawaning hudikatura at ilatag ang sunod-sunod na reporma sa hudikatura. Ako ay nahirang na maging pinuno, hindi lamang sa hudikatura mismo ng unit, dahil sa ehemplong hudikatura ay ang mabilis at tamang pag-inog ng hustisya, (I was designated to protect justice, preserve the judiciary’s independence, take care of its employees, and implement a series of reforms. I was chosen to be a leader of a judiciary that must ensure a fast and proper delivery of justice.)” she said. (PNA)
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