PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno is now in the eye of the storm after an impeachment complaint have been filed against her, first by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) in the House of Representatives “for supposed culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust.”
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon also filed another impeachment complaint against Sereno for living an exorbitant lifestyle. Included in his complaint is the alleged purchase by the Supreme Court of a luxury sport-utility vehicle (SUV) worth P5.1 million.
ABS-CBN News reported that on Wednesday, August 30, 25 lawmakers endorsed Gadon’s complaint against Sereno, initiating the impeachment process against the chief justice.
On Thursday, August 31, Gadon claimed without actually naming names that there are two justices in the Supreme Court (SC) who are willing to testify against the Chief Justice.
As ABS-CBN news reported, Gadon contended that Sereno’s SALN had discrepancies arising from her professional fees when she served as a lawyer in the Philippine International Air Terminals Company Inc. (Piatco) case against the government over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
BUT just like what is going on in the eye of the storm, Chief Justice Sereno remains calm, collected, and unfazed,
“I did nothing wrong and it does not affect me at all. This is the good thing about having a clear conscience…you have nothing to fear,” Chief Justice Sereno said in response to allegations against her. “I have lived a life of modesty. I have been prudent in the use of court expenses.”
I HAVE PERSONALLY KNOWN the Aranal Family since my days as a volunteer for the Sacred Heart Parish community theater group “Dulaang Abot-Kaya” in Kamuning Quezon City, beginning in the late 70s. In 1980, I met Mark Aranal, the younger brother of CJ Sereno when he was among the new batch of participants in the theater workshop where I was among the teachers/facilitators.
From then on, I have seen how the Aranal Family, who resided at 24-C Kamuning Road in Quezon City, lived a simple frugal life. The Aranal kids all went to public schools during their grade school and high school years.
CJ Sereno was known as “Meilou” to her friends and classmates, was an honor graduate of both Kamuning Elementary School and Quezon City High School.
The Aranal family lived a life of integrity and service to God, with Mrs. Aranal being the President of the Legion of Mary, and Mark— a volunteer of Dulaang Abot Kaya which produces theatre performances meant to teach Christ’s teachings of truth, justice, fairness, love as they relate to contemporary problems of society, a calling Mark has embraced up to this time in his theater and music ministries.
Given this personal knowledge about this family, I wonder what esle could be behind this bid to impeach Chief Justice Sereno.
Could it be because she was an appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Predecessor Noynoy Aquino?
Could it be her previous “contentious’ relationship with President Duterte’s allies when, accoding to ABS-CBN news, the House of Representatives and the Court of Appeals bickered over the legislature’s detention of six Ilocos Norte officials who had refused to cooperate in an inquiry.
According to reports, CJ Sereno, along with then CA Presiding Justice and now Supreme Court Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr., urged the House to recall a show cause order it had issued against the appellate court for ordering the provincial officials’ release.
“Cognizant of its implications on the separation of powers and judicial independence, we express deep concern over the show cause order issued by the House committee on good government and public accountability,” Sereno and Reyes said.
“In this light, it is our hope that the House of Representatives reconsider its order and that it instead avail of all legal remedies that are provided to it under the Constitution, the law and the Rules of Court,” they suggested.
THE PHILIPPINES is a democratic nation with three co-equal branches of government meant to operate under the principles of “checks and balance” as mandated by the Constitution so that not one branch of government, nor institution, no public official will abuse the power of the position and the office.
May the truth, the rule of law, due process, and the public interest take precedence over personal and malicious interests.
This is a test of democracy in the Philippines.
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos