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Where did Sereno’s PIATCO income go? Winnie Monsod tells why CJ shouldn’t be impeached for it

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Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s alleged failure to include the multimillion-peso income she received handling the arbitration case against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) was one of the reasons cited by abogado Larry Gadon on why she should be impeached.

But for former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Winnie Monsod, Sereno cannot be impeached just because there’s no P30 million indicated in any of her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) from 2010 to 2016.

Monsod, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, explained that the government, which hired Sereno for the PIATCO arbitration case when she was a private lawyer, gave her P30-million fee over five years and not a lump sum.

“And since it was the government that paid her, it withheld about P8 million in taxes,” she said in her October 7 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Monsod, who had written about the botched PIATCO deal since 2002, said Sereno declared her income to the Bureau of Internal Revenue as she got it.

“How could her 2010 SALN (she was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court) include her income earned between 2004 and 2009? What it includes are the assets she bought with it,” she said.

Sereno represented the then-Department of Transportation and Communications in the international arbitration case involving PIATCO over the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Terminal 3. Her contract stated that she would be paid $80 per hour.

Monsod expressed incredulity over how Sereno could be accused of corruption for alleged failure to declare her earnings from the PIATCO case when she was only appointed to the Supreme Court in 2010.

Yet the feisty professor noted that it was not only Gadon who has made an issue of Sereno’s supposed failure to be honest in filling out her SALN.

“This is what Du30 is accusing her of—’…corruption, wala sa SALN diyan ang Piatco na yan’—without reading her answer to Lorenzo Gadon (who has had a pending case for disbarment since 2016),” Monsod said.