MANILA, Philippines – The Lower House wants to check if Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has hidden wealth which can be a ground for impeachment.
The House Committee on Justice has given the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) until February 19 to finish its investigation on the matter.
During the impeachment hearing, Wednesday, the committee tackled Sereno’s alleged failure to submit her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN for her 15 years of working as a professor at the University of the Philippines.
The law states that once a government official or employee fails to submit his or her SALN, he or she will face imprisonment of up to 5 years and fine of up to P5,000.
It can be recalled that such offense was the cause of impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“An investigation is the proper mode of obtaining all of this information in a comprehensive manner,” Committee on Justice Chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali said.
“We can do the formal investigation so that we can assess whether or not there was under declaration or non-declarations of income,” BIR Deputy Commissioner for Operations Arnell Guballa said.
In Wednesday’s hearing, the House Committee confronted Atty. Michael Ocampo of the Office of the Chief Justice to justify the SC’s need to hire a consultant.
They were referring to Helen Macasaet, who Sereno hired and paid a monthly salary of 250,000.
Ocampo said Sereno chose Macasaet because of her skills and expertise in information technology.
Macasaet was the one who solved the largest database crisis in GSIS.
“I don’t receive any allowance or anything from the Supreme Court unlike most of the employees or officials of the court. So excluding all those personal expenses which are related to performing my work, I would be getting more or less a net of P80,000,” Macasaet said.
The committee targets to finish the probe and release a committee report before the end of this month.— Joan Nano | UNTV News & Rescue