Sereno: House leaders held Judiciary budget 'hostage' for my ouster

MANILA, Philippines – Ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno accused leaders of the House of Representatives of aiding the impeachment complaint against her by holding hostage the Judiciary's budget.

Speaking to supporters at the University of the Philippines Diliman Bahay ng Alumni, Sereno said that during the impeachment proceedings against her at the House, the Supreme Court  Spokesman Theodore Te gave her the message that disclosed this.

The message: "That Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas had told Justice [Diosdado] Peralta that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had ordered the deliberations of the budget of the Judiciary, unless all the documents that the complainant requested from the Supreme Court would be released," Sereno said.

Sereno added,"the House leadership was going to hold hostage the Judiciary’s budget unless the SC cooperated fully with its plan to remove me."

Why this matters: The impeachment complaint in the House of Representatives filed by lawyer Larry Gadon has recently been shelved after the quo warranto petiton filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida succeeded in kicking Sereno out of the High Court.

But the two cases were not mutually exclusive. The Calida's quo warranto petition arose from Gadon's impeachment complaint. The House ended up probing Sereno for months, leading to the strongest arguments against her.

If Sereno's accusation is true, it is still unclear whether Gadon did eventually get documents from the SC. He has repeatedly said that he got his incriminating documents from sources.

Fariñas calls it a lie: In response, Fariñas dismissed Sereno's revelation as a lie, calling it "quadruple hearsay" because the information was passed on by various sources.

In rebutting Sereno, Fariñas cited the schedule of the impeachement and the Judiciary budget hearings.

"House Bill 6215, the proposed General Appropriations Act was approved on 2nd Reading on September 12, 2017, and on 3rd Reading on September 26, 2017," Fariñas said.

"The fifteen (15) Impeachment Hearings by the Justice Committee were conducted on November 22, 2017 to February 27, 2018, long after the House approved the Budget on 3rd Reading on September 26, 2017," Fariñas added. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.