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Sereno unqualified? Blame JBC, says Aquino

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By Xave Gregorio

No one else is to blame for letting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno getting on the shortlist for the top post in the judiciary despite allegedly not having submitted all her statements of assets liabilities and net worth (SALN) but the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), former President Noynoy Aquino said.

Aquino, who appointed Sereno in 2012 following the impeachment of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, said the JBC solely determines who is qualified for judicial posts and only chose from the shortlist the constitutional body gave him.

“So, ‘yun na nga mahirap ‘no. Ang bibigay sayo, ‘Ito mga listahan ng tao na qualified. Mamili ka doon.’ Pagpili mo, ‘Oo nga pala, hindi qualified ‘yan.’ Ano ba talaga?” Aquino said at the sidelines of the House probe on the P3.5 billion Dengvaxia mess Monday (February 26).

Among the accusations against Sereno the House justice committee is investigating in its hearing of the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice is her supposed failure to submit 10 years worth of her SALNs, which was a requirement at the time for aspirants to the top post in the judiciary.

However, JBC regular member Annaliza Capacite said Congress’ representative to the body, Senator Chiz Escudero, suggested that an “attempt to comply” would suffice.

While previous impeachment hearings revealed that Sereno only has three SALNs on record—from 1998, 2002 and 2006—it was also discovered that she sent a letter to the JBC saying she can no longer retrieve her SALNs from her stint as a law professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law from 1986 to 2006.

“‘Yung sinasabi nila ngayon na kulang ‘yung mga submissions, eh sila dapat yata ang sumagot nun dahil sinabi nila sa akin pagbigay nung listahan eh qualified ‘to,” Aquino said.

The former president also said he had no hand in the JBC’s shortlisting of Sereno for the position of Chief Justice.

“Hindi ko sila pwedeng sabihin, ‘Ito ilagay niyo, o ‘yan wag niyong ilagay ‘yan sa listahan.’ Ulit ha, sila ang magbibigay ng listahan na hindi pwedeng pakialaman, lalo na ng presidente. Kung ano ang nasa listahan, tapos doon ka na mamimili,” Aquino said.

The House justice committee is set to wrap up its hearing on the impeachment complaint against Sereno filed by abogado Larry Gadon on Tuesday (February 26).

Its chair, Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Rep. Reynaldo Umali, said they will be voting on which allegations they will include in the articles of impeachment which will be sent to the Senate, which would convene as the impeachment court.