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House panel finds sufficient grounds to impeach Sereno

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, October 5th, 2017

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MANILA, Philippines – Voting 25-2, the House Committee on Justice found sufficiency of grounds for the impeachment complaint filed against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

This means the lawmakers saw impeachable offenses in the 27 allegations stated in the complaint.

Some of the 27 grounds stated in the impeachment complaint against Sereno include:

– alleged luxurious lifestyle
-frequent travels abroad
-mis-declaration of her real wealth in her statement of assets liabilities and net worth
-purchase of high-end vehicles
– and her alleged tampering of temporary restraining orders and resolutions of courts.

The lawyer of Sereno has expressed dismay over the result of the hearing on the impeachment rap.

“The committee should have answered today if these set of evidence have basis. That’s our expectation. But in the hearing, it was declared sufficient in form again,” CJ Sereno’s Lawyer, Atty. Jojo Lacaninao said.

In the next hearing set in November, the House committee will determine if the complaint has probable cause.

According to House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali, they will formally invite the justices of the Supreme Court who would like to testify against the chief magistrate.

However, the committee has yet to decide on the request of Sereno to allow her lawyer to confront the complainant and the witnesses during the November hearing.

“We will issue subpoena to those who will be necessary in terms of clarifying the allegations in the complaint,” Umali said.

Once the lawmakers see probable cause in the complaint, they will write articles of impeachment and put it to a vote in the plenary of Congress. Once it passes the plenary, it will be brought to the senate that would stand as the impeachment court to begin the formal trial. From there, CJ Sereno will be obliged to face the Senators who will stand as judges. – Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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BIR finds discrepancies in CJ Sereno’s tax payment

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, February 19th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has found discrepancies in Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno’s tax payment based on the investigation it recently conducted.

But BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa has refused to divulge the content of their findings.

He noted that under Section 270 of the tax code, they can only divulge tax investigation findings if there is
an approval of the president; waiver from the respondent; an order from the judicial court or from the Senate impeachment court during a trial.

Deputy Commissioner Guballa said they have already submitted a letter to the president asking for his approval to divulge their findings.

The House impeachment committee has also subpoenaed the documents.

“We have observed some discrepancies but as I qualify it, we have to determine and base it on other documents, so that we can finally determine the discrepancies,” said the deputy commissioner.

BIR added that their investigation may result in filing charges against the chief magistrate.

“If we can find a probable cause for fraud then we can institute a criminal proceeding on that case,” said Guballa.

Sereno’s camp, on the other hand, denied any discrepancy.

“Lahat ng taxes na kailangan bayaran, binayaran po ni chief justice. Wala po silang makikita na tax evasion,” said Sereno’s spokesperson Atty. Jojo Lacanilao.

(She has paid all her taxes. They will not find any tax evasion.)

Meanwhile, two Muntinlupa presiding judges and a court official denied that CJ Sereno intruded in releasing warrant of arrest against the former Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

“You have created the impression that somebody called you not to issue the warrant of arrest because of the delay,” said impeachment committee vice chair Rep. Vicente Veloso.

“That impression is not correct because the first volume of the case is high so I have to read all of them,” said Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz of Muntinlupa RTC 204.

“Personally I did not receive any instruction from the chief justice to call judges handling the cases against Sen. De Lima,” said Deputy Court Administrator Jenny Aldecoa-Delorino.

“We are very independent of each others’ cases,” said Judge Patria Manalastas-De Leon of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206.

This prompted the committee to direct the complainant Atty. Larry Gadon to submit further evidence that will prove his allegations.

The committee is set to conduct one last hearing on February 27, in which, they invited the psychiatrist who gave Sereno a failed marking.

Afterward, the committee will vote on the issue.

Once the committee gets the sufficient number of votes, it will be forwarded to the plenary for another votation.

From the plenary, the complaint will be submitted to the Senate impeachment court for the start of the trial. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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Sandiganbayan postpones arraignment of former Pres. Noynoy Aquino

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: President Benigno Aquino III (PCOO)

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has postponed the scheduled arraignment on Wednesday  of former President Benigno Aquino III in connection with the bloody Mamasapano incident.

This, after Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno released a temporary restraining order (TRO) last February 9 regarding the supposed arraignment.

Sereno is the chairman of the first division of the high tribunal.

The TRO is the Supreme Court’s response to the appeal of the Volunteer’s Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) to the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman, stating the filing of graft and usurpation of authority complaints against Aquino instead of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

Aside from this, the SC has also ordered the ombudsman to not temporarily push through with the complaints filed against Aquino, former PNP chief Alan Purisima, and former PNP-SAF Director Getulio Napeñas. — UNTV News & Rescue

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Sereno stopped justices from paying courtesy call to Pres. Duterte – Associate Justice Andres Reyes

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – In Monday’s impeachment hearing against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, SC Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. confirmed that CJ Sereno asked him to cancel their supposed courtesy call to the then newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte.

He was then a Court of Appeals justice when he and his colleagues decided to write the President for an appointment

Reyes said CJ Sereno was very disappointed upon reading his letter and was raising her voice saying such move can end his career.

“She said, ‘I don’t like your letter. Your letter is insulting to me and the en banc. You make it appear that we’re not doing anything here in the SC. Your letter talks about discussing the problems to the President and that is an insult to us,’ ” Reyes recalled.

“She told me the President was talkative, ‘He might say something against you and you might not know how to answer him.’ Again I apologized. I said, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t mean to do that,’ and then she told me, ‘This might end your career’,” he added.

Reyes, however, thought they should proceed with the scheduled courtesy call, but they limited their agenda to the presentation of their commemorative stamps and coins.

Reyes also decided not to attend the meeting after all.

Associate Justice Teresita de Castro said the chief justice brought the issue to the en banc.

“There was a proposal to sanction or ask the justices of the CA and Sandiganbayan to show cause why they should not be sanctioned by the court…it was the chief justice who placed it in the agenda,” she said.

But the other justices did not approve of the proposal so nothing happened out of it.

But in the verified answer of the chief justice submitted to the impeachment committee, she said she just reminded the magistrates of their code of conduct that states that justices and judges must refrain from forging inappropriate connections with and get influenced by the executive and legislative branches of the government.

Meanwhile SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo stood in defense of the chief justice in her procurement of a luxury vehicle worth P5.1 million saying such purchase went through a process and was even approved by the en banc. – Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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