Gadon files graft cases against Sereno staff members, SC officials

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) — Lawyer Larry Gadon on Monday filed graft complaints before the Justice Department against the staff members of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and other Supreme Court officials.

In a seven-page complaint, Sereno's judicial staff head Maria Lourdes Oliveros, court attorney Michael Ocampo, and informations technology consultant Helen Perez Macasaet were accused of violating anti-graft and procurement laws for hiring the IT consultant without public bidding.

"Binayaran ng napakalaking halaga si Helen Perez Macasaet nang hindi dumadaan sa bidding, at ni-renew pa ito nang six times na hindi dumadaan sa bidding. Kaya ito ay malinaw na graft and corruption case," Gadon said.

In the House impeachment hearing on February 7, Macasaet said she received a monthly fee of ₱250,000 as consultant from October 2013 to November 2017, for a total of over ₱11 million. She was hired to help out in the court's computerization program or Enterprise Information Systems Plan.

Macasaet said her pay at the Supreme Court was a lot lower than any of the salaries she received from working with big companies here and abroad in her three decades of professional experience.

Sereno's camp earlier said there was nothing irregular in Macasaet's hiring which was done through "negotiated procurement."

"Her services are highly technical in nature and, therefore, exempted from public bidding under Section 53.7 of the 2009 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 9184," Jojo Lacanilao, one of Sereno's spokespersons, said.

Meanwhile, a three-page complaint accuses court attorney Jocelyn Fabian and Deputy Clerk of Court Anna-Li Papa-Gombio of violating the anti-graft law for supposedly delaying the release of survivorship benefits for the spouses of deceased magistrates.

"Namatay pa yung isang claimant na di pa niya napapakinabangan yung survivorship benefits. Ito ay maliwanag na paglabag sa batas," Gadon said.

Court Administrator Midas Marquez earlier told the House Justice Committee that a special committee created in 2015 by Sereno, with Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Presbitero Velasco, unduly delayed decision on the pending applications of dozens of retired justices and judges or their surviving spouse.

Gadon, who filed the impeachment complaint against Sereno, earlier threatened to file cases against these court officials if Sereno didn't resign by March 1.

The Chief Justice, however, has been firm that she will not step down despite the ongoing impeachment proceedings against her.

The top magistrate is accused of violating the Constitution, corruption, and other high crimes which are valid grounds for impeachment under the Constitution.

Aside from the impeachment, Solicitor General Jose Calida also filed a quo warranto case against Sereno, saying she should be ousted from office since her appointment is not valid due to noncompliance in the requirements when she applied for the position.