Critics lodge impeach rap vs. Chief Justice Sereno

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) — Advocacy groups Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, and lawyer Larry Gadon want Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno out for allegedly making decisions without the Supreme Court's approval, among other issues.

The petitioners anchored their case on five grounds, citing culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

First, they cited when Sereno issued an administrative order creating and reopening new judicial offices in Western Visayas, which they said was done without the Court's approval.

Second, when she appointed Solomon Lumba as her staff head while he was still holding another government post .

Third, when she appointed Brenda Jay Mendoza to head the Philippine Mediation Center, a unit in the high court, without the Court's approval.

Fourth, when she granted foreign travel allowances to her staff, charged to the Supreme Court's funds, again without the Court's nod, petitioners said.

And fifth, when she supposedly sat on applications for posts at the high court.

Manuel Luna, VACC lawyer said, "We have enough proof to substantiate all the allegations. All the grounds can be proven based on evidence. The best evidence came from the Court itself."

The complaint from VACC and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution was received by the office of the Secretary General, but has yet to be endorsed by a member of the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Gadon goes beyond culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust. He also accuses the chief magistrate of corruption and other high crimes.

Gadon claims Sereno committed corruption when she used public funds to "finance her lavish lifestyle" by purchasing a brand new car amounting to more than P5 million.

Sereno also allegedly stayed in expensive hotels while attending conferences and traveled via business or first class.

He adds the Chief Justice also brought with her a huge entourage.

And there's the claim of "other high crimes."

Gadon said Sereno obstructed justice when she instructed the judges handling Sen. Leila de Lima's cases to order them not to issue warrants of arrest "considering she's a senator."

An impeachment complaint is officially filed if a congressman endorses it. When asked if there are already lawmakers ready to endorse their complaint, VACC Founding Chairman Dante Jimenez said, "Whether they endorse it or not, I don't care. But of course, look at if on the merits of the case. Pwede po ba? Mga lawmakers, pwede po ba?"

[Translation:Whether they endorse it or not, I don't care. But of course, look at if on the merits of the case. Is this okay with you? Lawmakers, is this possible?]

But Gadon withheld the filing of his complaint, saying he was still gathering support from congressmen who would endorse it.

For its part, the high court's public information office said, "There will be appropriate time for comments on things like these. This is not that time."