Sereno camp on justices’ testimonies: Petty, ‘pure hugot’
MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno blasted the testimonies of 4 justices during the impeachment proceedings as “petty disagreements.”
“Shouldn't the good justices be resolving their disagreements within their own ranks, petty ones especially?” lawyer Josa Deinla, Sereno’s spokesperson, said earlier in the day.
Four justices, including incumbent Associate Justices Noel Tijam, Francis Jardeleza, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and retired justice Arturo Brion testified at the House committee on justice on Monday, December 11.
They all accused Sereno of skirting processes and undermining the authorities of the en banc in controversial court matters, such as the initial exclusion of Jardeleza from the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) shortlist.
Sereno blocked Jardeleza’s nomination to the SC by invoking the integrity card, citing the former solicitor general’s actions in the arbitration case over the West Philippine Sea.
Because the integrity issue kicked in, the JBC was then restrained by rules to vote unanimously in order to put Jardeleza on the short list. Obviously, Sereno did not vote for him.
Brion called this manipulation. Even more, Brion said, when Jardeleza’s appeal was raffled by the en banc only after the JBC had made its short list.
Brion became the member-in-charge and recommended to give Jardeleza the opportunity to pursue legal actions.
“Surprise of surprises, ayaw ng en banc, tapos na yan eh, ang aksyon ng en banc, noted. Ang ibig sabihin, nakita natin, binasa na namin, ilibing na natin sa limot, pero meron silang pasubali, without prejudice to legal remedies that Jardeleza may take,” Brion said.
(Surprise of surprises, the en banc didn't agree, they said it's done, our action was "noted". It means we saw it, we read it, let's forget about it, but they had some consolation, that it was without prejudice to legal remedies that Jardeleza may take.)
The "without prejudice" clause was mere "consuelo de bobo (consolation)," said Brion, especially because it only gave Jardeleze 44 days to file his pleadings before the President was due to name his appointee.
“Ang tingin ko, ano ba naman ito, maano ba naman na alisin na itong consuelo de bobo, kung saan na ipinapadama pa na hindi ka masyadong sinasaktan, pero ang totoo sinasaktan ka, that was malice,” Brion said.
(To my view, what is this, why couldn't they have just removed their consolation, as if they were making you feel they were not really hurting you, but in truth, they were hurting you, that was malice.)
For Deinla, this is “pure hugot” or the modern Filipino slang for having deep feelings on a certain issue.
“Puro feels at hugot (all feelings) on matters that are already settled and show, at best, variances in opinion that they could very well resolve in their turf,” Deinla said.
The camp further explained that Jardeleza’s right to due process was not violated.
“The Minutes of the Executive Session held on 30 June 2014 would show that then Solicitor General Jardeleza was in fact given an opportunity to explain his side, which opportunity he refused to take on account of his position that he is entitled to a statement in writing of the charges against him,” the Sereno camp said in a statement.
The JBC vote
De Castro recalled how Sereno also told the en banc that several justices told her to do away with the SC vote on the short list. Traditionally, justices are given their informal votes on nominees, but typically limited to those who are given weight by the JBC members.
But when probed, De Castro said Sereno could not name the justices who supposedly made the request. She was even more surprised, she said, when she was told it was supposedly her.
“Bakit ako pa ang sasabihin niya eh lagi ko nga siyang kinokontra? (Why would she name me when I'm always objecting to her?)” De Castro said.
Tijam, meanwhile, complemented earlier testimonies by Court Administrator Midas Marquez and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that Sereno unilaterally acted on the transfer of Maute cases, delaying its transfer to Taguig.
De Castro told the committee: “I’ve been calling the attention of the Chief Justice so she will not commit the same mistakes. It’s been 5 years, she has not stopped failing to ask the en banc. Until when will we suffer (Hanggang kailan kami magtitiis)?”
Brion also waxed poetic: “Yung maliliit na patak, unti-unti, 'pag iniipon mo ang maliliit na patak na iyan,…tulad nang nangyayari ngayon, pagdating ng panahon, nagiging agos. Ang agos, nagiging baha."
(These small droplets, they accumulate. And like what’s happening now, over time, those droplets become a stream. A stream becomes a flood.)
“I fear that this kind of spectacle will militate against the duty of reaffirming the public's faith in the Judiciary,” Deinla said. – Rappler.com