Justices Bersamin, Peralta: CJ Sereno violated SC collegiality

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — Two Supreme Court (SC) justices said Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno violated the collegiality or the collegial nature of the Supreme Court on several instances.

Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta confirmed the allegation Monday before the House Justice Committee at the resumption of the impeachment hearing against Sereno.

However, the two refused to comment when asked if they think Sereno deliberately committed culpable violation of the Constitution when she violated the collegiality of the Supreme Court.

In the impeachment complaint, Atty. Larry Gadon alleged Sereno made several decisions without the approval of the Supreme Court En Banc.

Sereno is facing a complaint based on four grounds for impeachment: culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.

Committee, TWG caused delayed release of pension

Meanwhile, Peralta and Associate Justice Samuel Martires confirmed the special committee and Technical Working Groups (TWG) created by Sereno delayed the release of pensions for the surviving spouses of justices and judges for over two years.

They noted that prior to the creation of the committee, it took the SC only a couple of weeks to process retirement benefit applications.

"Some of us are interested or in favor of dissolving this technical working group. Kawawa naman ang mga byuda. Two years...yung mga surviving spouses, they came to us. They were crying, bakit nade-delay," Peralta said

Some congressmen blamed Sereno for the delay for creating the committee and TWGs and for not doing anything about it.

Sereno's lawyers earlier said, however, Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Presbitero Velasco also approved the creation of the special committee.

They said if there is delay, it cannot be attributed to Sereno because the applications were referred to the special committee and TWGs.

No hard feelings against Sereno

Associate Justices Peralta, Bersamin, and Martires denied harboring ill feelings toward Sereno when asked why they testified against her.

They said they attended the hearing because the House Justice Committee asked them to.

Peralta also said he considers Sereno a friend, while Bersamin said he respects the Chief Justice.

Martires, meanwhile, said while Sereno did not vote in favor of his appointment, she had already apologized, which he accepted.

Psychiatrists, more justices to testify

A total of six SC Associate Justices and one retired Associate Justice have so far testified in the impeachment hearings.

House Justice Committee chairman Rey Umali said they will also invite SC Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Andres Reyes to the next hearing, along with retired SC Justice Adolf Azcuna, and Court of Appeals Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando.

The House Justice Committee also subpoenaed two psychiatrists—Dr. Dulce Liza Sahagun Reyes and Dr. Genuina Ranoy—who gave failing marks on the mental evaluation of the Chief Justice.

The psychiatrists' contracts were allegedly not renewed when Sereno assumed office.