Sereno spokesperson: 'World of difference' between Corona, Sereno impeachment cases

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Atty. Josa Deinla (left), spokesperson for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno; and House Justice Committee Chairman Rey Umali (right).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 1) — There is a "world of difference" between the impeachment cases involving two of the countries top judges.

This was the statement of Atty. Josa Deinla, a spokesperson for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Deinla told CNN Philippines’ On the Record Thursday that the differences lay in the articles of impeachment, the basis of the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, and the impeachment proceedings now being faced by Sereno.

 

"The difference lies in the fact that, before the late Chief Justice was proven to have misdeclared or did not disclose certain properties in his SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth). This is not the case with the Chief Justice now," Deinla said.

Deinla added the political context was also different, however, she said that she could not say that it was the Duterte administration backing Sereno's ouster.

She however, said, "But what is clear is that there are people who are clearly working for the removal of the Chief Justice in different...on all fronts practically."

She also said there were justices who were displeased by Sereno's appointment as Chief Justice back in 2012.

In 2012, the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, convicted former Chief Justice Renato Corona for misdeclarations in his SALN.

Corona and his wife, Cristina, were facing a P130.6 million forfeiture case before the second division of the Sandiganbayan.

Corona died from heart failure in April 2016. Under Philippine law, death ends a person’s criminal and civil liability. These are extinguished when the death of the offender occurs before the judgment on the case, Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code states.

In a press briefing earlier, Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te quoted a statement signed by 13 justices who urged Sereno to take an indefinite leave.

"After extended deliberations last Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 13 of the justices present arrived at the consensus that the Chief Justice should take an indefinite leave," Te read.

READ: SC: 13 justices wanted Sereno to go on indefinite leave

Only Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa was not present because he was on leave.

Also speaking to On the Record, House Justice Committee Chairman Rey Umali said he felt relief upon hearing the news as it proved Sereno was forced to take a leave.

Umali added the number of justices who wanted Sereno to go on leave showed "she did not have any support coming from any of the members."

"If I were her, I would not only go on leave, but probably resign," he said.

Deinla however, said she was bothered by the justices’ actions.

"I actually find it disturbing that Chief Justice's colleagues would 'force' her to go on an indefinite leave, because that will have the practical effect of vacating her post, " she said, adding she could not find any basis in law and in the Constitution where justices of the Supreme Court could do such to a peer.

Deinla said she did not know why the justices decided the way they did.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer Eimor Santos contributed to this report.