Sereno camp says Gadon criminal complaint a ‘desperate stunt’

The camp of Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday, January 26 dismissed the latest criminal complaint filed against her as a “desperate stunt” by lawyer Atty. Lorenzo Gadon.

Sereno’s camp expressed confidence that Gadon “will fall flat doing this latest stunt.”

“Indeed, desperate times call for desperate measures. Gadon knows that he still has nothing on the Chief Justice after all the undeserved attention that his complaint has been given,” said Atty. Josa Deinla, one of Sereno’s spokespersons.

On Friday, Gadon filed a criminal complaint against Sereno before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly failing to submit her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) when she was a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP).

In his complaint, the lawyer accused Sereno of violating the Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Gadon claimed that Sereno was a law professor at UP College of Law from November 1986 to 2006 but only filed her SALN for the years 1998, 2002, and 2006 based on certifications submitted by the Office of the Ombudsman, UP, and the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

“That means she did not file her SALNs 17 times,” Gadon said.

In a separate message, Atty. Carlo Cruz, also a spokesperson of Sereno, said the UP’s Human Resources Development Office already gave Sereno a Certificate of Clearance dated Sept. 19, 2011, which affirmed that she “has been cleared of all academic/administrative responsibilities.”

“This would, of course, include the SALN requirements,” Cruz added.

He also remarked that Gadon’s latest complaint before the DOJ only shows that the impeachment complaint against Sereno is weak.

“Offhand, it smacks of clear desperation on the part of the complainant in the impeachment proceedings. It is a clear acknowledgment on his part as to the utter weakness of his evidence in [the] said proceeding,” Cruz said.

Sereno is currently facing an impeachment complaint before the House of Representatives, which was also filed by Gadon.

Gadon explained that he did not include the alleged failure to file SALNs in his impeachment complaint because the issue was discovered when the House was already conducting hearings into the impeachment case.

He also clarified that in the impeachment complaint, he questioned the misdeclaration of Sereno’s SALN, while his more recent criminal complaint tackles her alleged non-submission of the SALN when she was still teaching at UP.

“While it is beyond question that the respondent is an impeachable officer, and therefore, can only be validly removed from office, through conviction in an impeachment proceeding, complainant nevertheless files this complaint before the DOJ in order to effectively toll the running of the prescriptive period for the offenses charged,” Gadon’s criminal complaint read.

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