New complaint against Chief Justice says she didn’t file her SALN for 17 years

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Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno — PHILIPPINE STAR

LAWYER Lorenzo G. Gadon filed another complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, this time for alleged non-filing of her statement of assets, liabilities, and networth (SALN) for 17 years, which covers the time she taught at the University of the Philippines.

Mr. Gadon, the complainant in the impeachment case against Ms. Sereno which is currently being heard in the House of Representatives, said on Friday that the the chief justice violated several provisions of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials under Republic Act (RA) 6713 and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act under RA 3019. The case was filed at the Department of Justice (DoJ).

“For a period of… 20 years or so, she only submitted her SALN thrice. She failed to submit anything for 17 years. So that’s her violation here,” Mr. Gadon said in Filipino during an interview with the media.

Mr. Gadon further clarified that his latest complaint is different from the impeachment charges against Ms. Sereno. The impeachment case questions the proper declaration of her income on her SALN while this new one questions the submissions of her SALN when she was teaching in UP, he said.

Ms. Sereno served as full-time professor in the University of the Philippines (UP) prior to becoming a chief justice from 1986 to 2006.

During her two decades of tenure in the university, she only filed her SALN for the years 1998, 2002, and 2006 — which is the same information unearthed during the House committee on justice’s probe into the probable cause of the impeachment charges.

Mr. Gadon earlier accused Ms. Sereno of failing to report in her SALN the attorney’s fees she received as counsel in the PIATCO case and failing to “truthfully disclose” her SALN.

“This is a criminal act that she has to account for that is why I filed a case. And this is complete with evidence because UP itself certified that she did not submit her SALN,” Mr. Gadon said in Filipino.

During the House probe, officials of UP’s Human Resources and Development Office testified that they could only retrieve the chief justice’s 2002 SALN from their records.

The Office of the Ombudsman likewise said it holds no records of her SALN.

“And the third evidence here is the certification from JBC itself that she did not at all submit her SALN during those 20 years, that she only submitted three,” Mr. Gadon said in Filipino.

According to Mr. Gadon, the Supreme Court requires its justices to submit 10 years worth of SALNs if they were previous public employees.

“But [Ms. Sereno] didn’t submit,” Mr. Gadon said in Filipino. “If you will look at it closely, she is not qualified as chief justice from the very start.”

Mr. Gadon said he is also planning to file administrative and criminal charges against other officials of the Supreme Court over alleged violations of the procurement laws as discovered during the House proceedings.

During the course of the impeachment probe in the House, procurement committee officials of the Supreme Court were summoned to testify on the allegations of acquiring overpriced Toyota Land Cruiser for the chief justice, hiring of IT consultant with high compensation, and the lavish accommodation in Shangri-La Boracay without proper bidding.

On Monday, Jan. 29, the House committee on justice is set continue its deliberation on the impeachment case against Ms. Sereno. — Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz