MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Larry Gadon threatened Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno with graft and other criminal complaints if she does not resign by March 1.
“Talagang idadamay ko lahat (I will really involve everyone),” Gadon said as he threatened to include other officials of the court too.
“This will be the end of their careers. Lahat ng pinaghirapan, lahat mawawala. ‘Yan ay mangyayari dahil sa katigasan ng ulo ni Sereno (They will lose everything they worked for. This will happen because Sereno is stubborn),” Gadon said in a press conference on Thursday, February 22.
Gadon said he will file complaints of violations of the procurement and anti-graft laws for the SC’s purchase of a land cruiser for Sereno, the hiring of Information Technology or I.T. consultant Helen Macasaet, for the delay of survivorship benefits, and for the rent of a presidential villa in Boracay Shangri-La in 2015.
Sereno, however, can only be removed by impeachment. In an earlier interview, Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali recognized that, as an impeachable officer, filing a criminal suit against Sereno is a gray area due to the theory of immunity from suit.
Gadon said he may file the graft cases before the Department of Justice (DOJ) instead of the Office of the Ombudsman even though they are public officials. Such cases normally fall under the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, with the Ombudsman tasked with prosecution.
Pressed for his basis for filing it with the DOJ, Gadon cited the concurrent jurisdiction clause, and said: “I’m the lawyer, I will decide where to file it.”
Asked why he’s threatening instead of just filing the cases if he believes there are legal grounds to sue the officials, Gadon said Sereno’s resignation will “soften his heart” for the officials.
Gadon said he will file the cases against Sereno and the following SC officials:
- Thelma Bahia (Fiscal Management and Budget Office)
- Ma. Carina Cunanan (Fiscal Management and Budget Office)
- Corazon Ferrer-Flores (Fiscal Management and Budget Office)
- Michael Ocampo (Office of the Chief Justice)
- Ma. Lourdes Oliveros (Office of the Chief Justice)
- Anna Li Papa-Gombio (Deputy Clerk of Court)
- Jocelyn Fabian (Office of the Chief Justice)
- Carina Encarnacion Samonte-Villanieva (Office of the Chief Justice)
- Helen Macaset (I.T. consultant)
- Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva (Office of the Court Administrator)
- Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses (formerly of the Office of the Chief Justice)
During the House committee on justice’s hearings on Sereno’s impeachment complaint, lawmakers supported the theory of criminally charging the Chief Justice.
On the purchase of a land cruiser, BS Partylist Representative Eugene Michael de Vera said that specifying the Toyota Land Cruiser brand in a bid violates Section 18 of the procurement law.
On the rent of a presidential villa, Leyte 3rd District Representative Vicente Veloso said Sereno’s admission that the villa was given to them by the Boracay Shangri-La at no additional cost violates the graft provision that prohibits receiving gifts.
Gadon also said he will take it up with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I will send a letter to Malacañang and urge President Duterte and the Office of the President to nullify the appointment of Chief Justice Sereno,” Gadon said.
Sereno, in an earlier interview, said she will never resign.
The SC en banc has asked Sereno to explain to them the issue of her alleged missing Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) – also the subject of Gadon’s pending graft complaint against her at the DOJ. – Rappler.com