Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is getting all the breaks that her predecessor never got. And yet she can’t even show half of the decency that Renato Corona displayed, when he was undergoing the same process of impeachment.
Like the President who appointed her, Sereno is revealing herself to be a whiny, entitled brat, long before she has been brought to an actual trial. And I’d expected a lot more stoicism and dignity from someone who holds the post of leader of the judiciary, supposedly the most respectable of the three co-equal heads of the government.
Sereno began the week by declaring that President Rodrigo Duterte and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez were behind the move to remove her from office by way of impeachment. During the inauguration of a new court building in Metro Manila, Sereno used the opportunity to claim that she was the victim of persecution by the heads of the Executive and the lower chamber of Congress.
Then Sereno went on what Alvarez described as a “TV-hopping” binge, pleading her case before friendly media outlets in exclusive interviews, where she continued to harp on the same persecution theme. And all this from a chief justice who said she will stick to the law in order to prove her supposed innocence.
Of course, I also recall Corona saying the same thing five years ago, with a key difference. Corona only began talking in public about a conspiracy to get him out of the Court hatched by Malacañang and Congress when it had already become clear, very late into his own trial in the Senate, that such a plot truly existed.
In contrast, Sereno is crying persecution when the House committee on justice has not even impeached her. And yet, the committee has bent over backwards for her, going through the unheard-of process of finding probable cause like a regular prosecutorial body, before even recommending her impeachment before the House plenary.
Neither Joseph Estrada nor Corona were given the same privilege. These two were put on the House “railroad” and declared impeached by the plenary in such a hurry that the congressmen-prosecutors were still scrounging around for evidence to justify the articles of impeachment brought before the Senate during the trial proper.
(I noted with no small amount of irony that House majority leader, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, one of the prosecutors in the Corona impeachment trial, admitted yesterday that the charge sheet brought before the Senate was so faulty that he was not even among those who signed it before the document was transmitted. And yet, upon the urging of then House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Fariñas said he agreed to help prosecute Corona in the Senate, on the basis of articles that he knew were so hastily prepared that they could be fatally flawed.)
That said, I think the House should be commended for not repeating its past mistakes and making sure that Sereno is accorded all the courtesies that a Chief Justice facing impeachment should receive. But Sereno, bless her whiny Yellow heart, is just abusing the privilege.
By seeking to cross-examine the witnesses that the justice committee intends to summon in the forthcoming trial, Sereno has shown that she wants to discredit them before they even get to the Senate. And yet, she cannot even comply with the committee request that she appear before it, to test their credibility herself.
So what’s it gonna be, Madam Chief Justice? Do you want a trial now in the House committee and in the media or do you want it later, when it really should be done?
How can you say you trust the system and the law and go gallivanting before media to plead you case? Why do you send your 11-man team of lawyers to the justice committee with a mere special power of attorney to act on your behalf, when you can’t even put in one of those personal appearances that you do in media on a nearly daily basis?
I’ve already written that Sereno’s impeachment is giving me a serious case of deja vu. But maybe that’s just because I sense that the ending will be the same-— even if everything that went on before the two trials are as different as night and day.
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The case filed by the Department of Transportation against some of the biggest names in the Aquino administration in connection with the alleged massive looting that attended the maintenance contract for the MRT 3 must have really agitated a few people identified with that late, unlamented presidency. This is why, even if they admitted that they haven’t seen the actual complaint yet, they can dismiss it outright as unfounded.
In quick succession, former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, the supposed architect of the supposed anomalous multi-billion BURI maintenance deal, his co-respondent failed presidential candidate Mar Roxas and even Senator Franklin Drilon denounced the filing of the case. That, to me, means that they’re all scared of what the complaint may actually contain.
Whatever happened to a simple “no comment, haven’t seen or studied the complaint yet,” by way of a reply?