DoJ clarifies order on Sereno staff

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday rejected the claim that the subpoenas issued by the Justice department against the staff of ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno were intended to harass them.

“Our investigating prosecutors routinely issue subpoenas to any and all persons named as respondents in complaints filed before the DoJ,” Guevarra said in a text message. 

“That’s part of procedural due process and should not be viewed as an act of harassment.”

Guevarra made his statement even as Sereno’s supporters said they were still hoping that the Supreme Court would reverse its decision ordering her ouster for not filing her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Sereno’s spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao said they were now preparing the motion for reconsideration on the May 11, 2018, high court decision that granted the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida and invalidated Sereno’s appointment to the top judicial post in 2012.

“Hope should not be lost indeed in this case―even with a slim chance of winning the appeal,” Lacanilao said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Villarin on Sunday slammed the high court’s eight associate justices for their quo warranto decision removing Sereno from her post.

In a dzBB radio interview, Villarin said the members of the minority bloc had agreed to take appropriate action against Associate Justices Noel Tijam, Teresita de Castro, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta and Francis Jardeleza who voted on May 11 to grant the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

“On the issue of filing an impeachment complaint, we have agreed that there should be a move... against the eight justices. The agreement is that, basically, the complaint would focus on the culpable violation of the Constitution of the justices and betrayal of public trust,” Villarin said.

Guevarra made his statement after Sereno’s camp cried harassment over the summons the Justice department issued against lawyers Maria Lourdes Oliveros, and Michael Ocampo, who have been accused by lawyer Larry Gadon of involvement in graft and corruption at the Supreme Court.

“The DoJ under my watch will not be used to advance any political purpose,” Guevarra said.

On Saturday, Sereno said Oliveros and Ocampo were asked to explain their work in the judiciary.

Gadon, the complainant in the impeachment case against Sereno, filed a complaint against Oliveros, a Court Attorney VI of the Office of the Chief Justice and chairman of the Legal Technical Working Group; Ocampo, a Court Attorney VI; and former IT consultant Helen Perez-Macasaet for allegedly violating the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The three respondents submitted their counter-affidavit earlier this month.

Gadon claims that only two of the eight contracts of service of Macasaet with the high court passed the Bids and Awards Committee, while the six others were renewed by Sereno without the knowledge and approval of the Bids and Awards Committee.

“The splitting of the contracts was meant to evade competitive bidding in violation of RA 9184. The mode of hiring of respondent Perez-Macasaet was a form of negotiated procurement through direct negotiation instead of undergoing public bidding,” Gadon claimed.

He also claimed that Macasaet’s compensation was P100,000 a month under the first contract and P250,000 a month in the succeeding contracts, “way beyond” the compensation ceiling set by a circular letter from the Department of Budget and Management.

“By reason of compensation alone, the contracts of service of Perez-Macaset, upon the recommendation and influence of Respondents Oliveros and Ocampo, are manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government,” Gadon said in his complaint.

Topics: Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra , Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno , Solicitor General Jose Calida
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