CJ ready for SALN issue in impeach trial

CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said Thursday she looked forward to telling her side to allegations that she failed to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth when she goes to an impeachment trial in the Senate.

“Watch out for it in the Senate,” Sereno, speaking in Filipino, told the news website Rappler in an exclusive interview. “There will be good developments on that issue in the Senate.”

Among other charges, Sereno has been accused of failing to file her SALN for a number of years when she worked as a law professor at the University of the Philippines between 1986 and 2006. The House committee on justice said it has found only SALNs for 1998, 2002 and 2006.

Sereno told Rappler that her enemies were watching her closely for seven years but could not find any taint of corruption.

If the House panel finds probable cause in the impeachment complaint, the plenary will vote to decide if her case goes to trial, with the Senate sitting as judges.

Sereno has stayed away from the House hearings and has let her lawyers counter allegations brought up during the sessions.

“The people have seen my house. Everybody knows our lifestyle. They cannot find any hidden wealth, what do I have to hide? My biggest earning was from the government, reported to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, reported to the Commission on Audit. My husband and I do not have any wealth to hide,” she said in Filipino.

From 2004 to 2009, Sereno earned P30 million working as a private lawyer defending the government against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc. (Piatco) in an arbitration case in Singapore over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

Malacañang on Friday said it would leave the fate of Sereno to Congress.

“It is up to Congress whether or not to impeach Sereno,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.

Roque’s remarks came after former Court of Appeals magistrate and now member of the House of Representatives Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso said that President Rodrigo Duterte could recall Sereno’s appointment as Chief Justice.

“We leave the fate of the Chief Justice to Congress,” Roque said, denying suggestions that the President was behind the impeachment complaint.

Roque also said that Malacañang is not trying to undermine independence of the judiciary, even as Duterte has openly backed the impeachment complaint against Sereno.

He said the impeachment cannot be considered as a means to undermine the institution because it is a constitutional procedure. 

Topics: CJ Sereno , impeachment hearing , SALN issue
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