The 'ghastly' actions that CJ Sereno had done

‘Aghast’ a significant word uttered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro yesterday when she testified against Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno’s impeachment case.

In an oxford dictionary, ‘Aghast’ was defined as “filled with horror or shock,” or synonyms for ‘appalled’, ‘dismayed’ or even ‘stunned’.

A veteran columnist and writer, Yen Makabenta, tackled the essence and significance of De Castro over the impeachment complaint.

Mr. Makabenta, on his column asked, “What did CJ Sereno do that was so ghastly to the only other female justice of the high court?”

He then discussed two ghastly actions of CJ Sereno, check out the column’s part below;

Two ghastly actions by the CJ

First, CJ Sereno misrepresented an en banc resolution by the high court concerning the creation of a Regional Court Administrative Office (RCAO) in Region 7, and proceeded on her own to replace it with a Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) in the same region. In the process, she skirted the legislative authority of Congress and without consulting with the other members of the court.

She deceptively presented the JDO as the same as the RCAO, which the court had authorized by an en banc resolution.

In his impeachment complaint, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon charged that Sereno had falsified the SC resolution in order to bypass the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) in the administration of the regional office, so she could appoint officials to the unauthorized office.

Neither the JDO nor the RCAO exist today, as a result of Sereno’s erratic actions.

Second, CJ Sereno bypassed a recommendation by the member-in- charge, and unilaterally issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) concerning the party-list elections at the Commission on Elections, on which the Senior Citizens party had petitioned the high court in order to stop the proclamation of winners.

Justice de Castro was assigned to serve as the member-in-charge of the party-list case. She studied the case and duly came up with a recommendation that the court issue a TRO on the Comelec.

Without consulting with her, CJ Sereno decided to issue a TRO on her own and ignored De Castro’s recommendation. Sereno’s TRO turned out to be a blanket order to the elections body, and covered cases that were not involved in the petitions of the Seniors party.

In the irregular issuance of a TRO. The chief justice violated the SC’s internal rules and its principle of collegiality in its decisions.

Creating an office without authority

De Castro was invited to shed light on Sereno’s alleged unilateral issuance of Administrative Order (AO) 175-2012, which designates the head of the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) in the seventh judicial region.

De Castro said that when Sereno issued the AO, it appears that she created a permanent office. “The chief justice cannot create an office because it is a legislative power,” she said.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo FariƱas supported her assertion, saying that “not even the Supreme Court can create an office.”

De Castro pointed out that the RCAO is not a permanent office. “Even if it was created by the court, it was a pilot project, it is an ad-hoc body. It has no permanency,” she said.

“So, it may not come with the exclusive legislative power vested upon us,” she added.

De Castro said the associate justices were not consulted by Sereno in the opening of the RCAO 7.

“We were taken aback because we were invited only to a launching of the RCAO 7 and we were not at all consulted to participate in this decision,” she said.

This prompted De Castro to look deeply into the matter; she found that the chief justice had issued AO 175-2012 designating the head for the JDO in the seventh judicial region. “This is not meant to implement the RCAO as approved by the court en banc unanimously,” she said.

De Castro likewise confirmed the allegation that Sereno issued the resolution in Administrative Memorandum No. 12-11-9-SC, on the opening of RCAO 7, without the en banc’s consensus.

She said the resolution was ratified without reflecting the “vehement objection” raised by the justices during the deliberations of the court en banc.

The lady justice was also praised by many after establishing a memorable line, “To be truthful is to be just.” 

During her testimony, De Castro even avoided criticizing Sereno’s actions. She was clear and concise. She came prepared, supported with documents.  

Source: Manila Times

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