Lumang tugtugin na: Ex-Ateneo dean Tony La Viña tells why lawmakers would be foolish to impeach Sereno
Impeaching Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno would be a futile effort for the House of Representatives given that the two complaints prepared against her consist of allegations that either lack factual basis or do not rise to what are considered impeachable offenses, former Ateneo School of Government Tony La Viña said.
In his August 5 column for the Manila Standard, La Viña poked holes in the impeachment complaints prepared by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno.
With regard to the VACC’s complaint, La Viña said the group’s allegation that Sereno culpably violated the Constitution through certain administrative decisions will not hold water since they have been resolved by the Supreme Court sitting en banc.
Sereno was also well within her powers to appoint certain people, the new Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and reopen the Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO) in Western Visayas, he added.
La Viña described the VACC’s allegations against Sereno as “recycled” claims “for the purpose [of] these impeachment charges.”
Aside from being inaccurate, he said the allegations that Sereno granted travel allowances to her staff without the court en banc’s approval and sat on applications for the posts of Supreme Court Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Attorney also do not constitute a culpable violation of the Constitution and a betrayal of public trust, contrary to what VACC argued.
“Culpable violation of the Constitution means a specific constitutional provision was intentionally transgressed upon by the impeachable official. Betrayal of public trust, even if it has a broader scope, implies a seriousness that rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors that are also grounds for impeachment,” he explained
Meanwhile, La Viña said Gadon’s complaint consist of allegations that “are all innuendos bereft of factual and legal basis.” He said Sereno has fully reported the compensation she received for as a private lawyer for the Piatco airport dispute and did not manipulate judicial appointments.
The former dean, who now teaches law subjects at various universities, said it might be better to create a “permanent impeachment tribunal” if offenses such as buying pricey vehicles and flying business class constitute were impeachable.
If the feebleness of the complaints are not enough to deter lawmakers from endorsing them, La Viña said it is noteworthy that both President Rodrigo Duterte and House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas have distanced themselves from the cases.