Sereno camp: Court administrator's presentation 'low blow, fake news'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — Court Administrator Midas Marquez's claims on the ineffectivity of technical working groups (TWGs) supposedly formed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was a low blow, Sereno's camp said Wednesday.

"The allegation of Midas yesterday was the Chief Justice controls the TWG. That's just a low blow...It's not true, it's not fair, fake news," Sereno spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Marquez appeared at the impeachment hearing at the House of Representatives on Tuesday. He said TWGs formed by Sereno in 2015 caused a delay in the release of benefits for retired judges and justices, and in the approval of survivorship benefit claims of spouses.

It took the committee and TWGs two years before 12 of 29 applications were approved, Marquez added.

The delay in the approvals is one of the grounds in the impeachment complaint against Sereno. The complainant Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon said it is a culpable violation of the Constitution.

Related: Court Administrator: Groups formed by Sereno created delay in judges' benefits

Sereno's camp first disputed that the groups were formed by the Chief Justice alone. Lacanilao pointed out the committee also consisted of Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Presbitero Velasco Jr., and Sereno only signed the document.

"First of all, the special committee was created by the three justices, as empowered by the en banc. The committee was given the power to create the TWG," said Lacanilao.

Lacanilao also denied the TWGs are causing delay, saying there was only one application pending in the committee level, 79 in the Office of the Court Administrator, and around nine pending in the Supreme Court en banc.

The spokesperson slammed Marquez's presentation as "selective," saying he only picked five cases which probably had administrative issues which therefore took a long time to process.

"The data [was] not complete. He didn't say when the en banc gave it back to the committee, how long the committee worked on it, when these people applied to him," said Lacanilao. "It was unfair, it was very unprofessional for him to do that."

Marquez has yet to respond to Lacanilao's allegation.

Hearings on determining probable cause in the impeachment case against Sereno enter its sixth day at the House Committee on Justice on Wednesday, where members of the TWG are testifying.

CNN Philippines correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.