The impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is a foregone conclusion. The House plenary will certainly elevate her case to the Senate for trial. There is enough basis to find probable cause against her.
I think however that there are elements in this sordid case that must not be taken for granted.
This relates to the fact that the Judicial and Bar Council placed Sereno on the short list for chief justice despite the fact that she did not submit her complete Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth as required by the JBC rules.
This raises the question—was the JBC ordered to accommodate Sereno despite these lapses?
I said there are more than enough elements of probable cause to impeach Sereno. I am not including here testimonies of Sereno’s colleagues that in some cases, she acted on her own despite the fact that the justices had to act as one.
One telling testimony was from a justice who accused Sereno of committing treason for making public details of an agreement with Taiwan, brought up during deliberations in The Hague.
But to me the most grievous mistake committed by Sereno was, aside from failing to submit a complete set of SALN, was her failure to pay her tax obligations.
Santa Banana, if the late Chief Justice Renato Corona was convicted and ousted by the Senate for misdeclaring his dollar accounts in his SALN, how much more Sereno who failed to submit her documents, and to pay her taxes, as required?
Now comes the question on the fitness of Sereno to be chief justice.
If the appointment was null and void, it was as if she was never chief justice. So if 13 justices can decide to make Sereno go on an indefinite leave of absence, why can’t they also oust her for not being qualified in the first place?
There are two overwhelming reasons why I believe Sereno should resign immediately, if she has some self-respect and delicadeza left.
One, Sereno is already damaged goods. Even if the Senate dismisses the charges against her, she has already lost all ascendancy and effectivity to be primus inter pares.
More importantly, we cannot afford a divided Supreme Court. This will weaken the judiciary and our judicial system.
If Sereno knows what is good for herself and her country, she must now resign, and pronto.
She has been proven lacking in moral integrity needed in the head of one of the three branches of government. I believes this constitutes betrayal of public trust.
We the public know what ails the once-island paradise of Boracay and other well-known tourism destinations. It is not only the weak enforcement of laws like the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Lw.
The finger of blame points directly to the local government of Malay, Aklan, and the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They should have monitored what was going on.
The island has been overbuilt with so many commercial establishments.
I cannot understand why this was allowed to happen over so many years.
Now, both the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the DENR want to close Boracay for 60 days. This makes sense. This will do Boracay a lot of good.
These agencies should also set an example by making those responsible accountable. They should also do the same thing to other popular tourist destinations.
If there are some sectors wary about President Duterte’s plan to jointly explore parts of the contested reefs in the West Philippine Sea, I cannot blame them.
First of all, the President said the joint exploration would be like a co-ownership with China. But would not a co-ownership effectively legitimize China’s claim?
Co-ownership means that the Philippines is admitting the claim of China, which is patently against our laws.
What Duterte is in fact doing by granting China co-ownership is appeasement and accommodation. Congress still has to affirm what the President wants to give to China. But he is already allowing China’s Trojan horse in – unacceptable in any language.
A Senate panel, which is trying to find out the sentiments of the people on Charter change, has found that most people prefer to have a constitutional convention where they can elect delegates to amend the Constitution rather than a constituent assembly where the changes will be proposed by members of Congress.
This brings to fore basic problems. The House of Representatives, led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, is insisting on the latter mode. Such assembly will be jointly attended by the House and the Senate, which the Senate is objecting to.
We go back to square one. What mode will prevail?
Another question is whether Congress would even accept the recommendations of the consultative committee created to recommend how the charter must be changed.
Or will lawmakers just ignore it?