Sereno lived a lie

The Commission on Elections, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are saying that Monday’s election was generally peaceful.

Santa Banana, how can the election be generally peaceful when we are told that some 1,000 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials and 100 members of Congress were found guilty of electioneering?

More importantly, 35 people were killed and 27 were wounded.

The Comelec and the Department of the Interior and Local Government found that candidates bought votes for as much as P3,000 each.

The authorities all knew what happened nationwide, and they must not hesitate to enforce the law. Their failure only encourages those who are bent on frustrating the people’s will.

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With the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, we know now that everybody is fair game especially when he or she opposes the Duterte administration—at least, that is what Sereno and her allies in the opposition insist.

The premise is that Sereno is a victim of a government that is out to suppress all dissent. But if this were true, all of them would be in jail already!

What were the events that led to the ouster of Sereno? Remember that former President Benigno Aquino III plucked Sereno out of nowhere to make chief justice.

When lawyer Larry Gadon filed an impeachment case against her before the House of Representatives, and when the complaint was endorsed by two Duterte supporters, Sereno started crying persecution. She said she was a victim of the Duterte administration’s attempt to destroy the independence of the judiciary.

But when the committee on justice of the House conducted hearings, we all discovered that Sereno failed to submit her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth as required.

Solicitor General Jose Calida took the opportunity to file a quo warranto case against her as she was a usurper to the chief justice post.

In other words, the Judicial and Bar Council failed to consider that Sereno was not qualified to be chief justice in the first place.

And then at this point, Sereno portrayed herself as the paragon of judicial independence.

Things became worse for Sereno when some of her colleagues testified against her and said she did not enjoy their respect as the “first among equals.” They gave numerous examples of Sereno doing things on her own despite the fact that the Supreme Court was a judicial body.

The Court acknowledged it had jurisdiction over the quo warranto case. It became clear that there was another remedy in the Constitution to oust an impeachable official like Sereno. The noose began to tighten around her neck.

Sereno and her supporters preferred impeachment because then she could answer all the charges against her. But wasn’t she given due process already during deliberations on the quo warranto petition? So what’s her beef?

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In the aftermath of the Sereno ouster, there was a suggestion in Congress that Supreme Court justices should be nominated by the Commission on Appintemnts.

I remember that it was Justice J.B.L. Reyes, then a delegate to the 1987 Constitutional Convention, who moved for the creation of the Judicial and Bar Council to select members of the judiciary—from the municipal courts to the Supreme Court.

The idea was to isolate the selection process from politics. The CA is composed of members of Congress.

From the looks of it, the JBC has become politicized too. They select incompetent and corrupt members of the judiciary. The president is the appointing authority.

I know for a fact that in many instances, a judge or even a justice must have the endorsement of a mayor or governor, or even a senator.

I really don’t know why the members of the ConCon agreed with Justice Reyes. Perhaps the consultative commission reviewing the charter can consider returning this function to the CA.

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra should look at the need to transfer the New Bilibid Prisons from Muntinlupa to Nueva Ecija.

The NBP was intended to house only 2,400 inmates. That plan had already been approved by past administrations. In fact, there was a pre-qualification process among bidders for the construction of a P57-billion facility in Laur.

I never really understood why Guevarra’s immediate predecessor, former Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, would junk such a sensible plan.

Topics: Commission on Elections , Philippine National Police , Armed Forces of the Philippines , Maria Lourdes Sereno , Vitaliano Aguirre II , Jose Calida , Judicial and Bar Council , Larry Gadon
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