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No ‘mental dishonesty’ from Sereno — lawyer

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By Ellson Quismorio

There was no “mental dishonesty” with Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s actions resulting in her takeover of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s request to transfer the cases filed against Maute Group terrorists outside of Mindanao, her spokesperson insisted.

“The Chief Justice is standing by her statement that there is nothing irregular and mentally dishonest about how she acted on the Maute cases’ transfer,” lawyer Josalee Deinla told reporters in a chance interview today on the sidelines of House justice committee’s ongoing hearings on the impeachment case filed against Sereno.

Hon. Noel G. Tijam - Associate Justice of Supreme Court of the Philippines testifies on delay in resolution of transfer of Maute Cases in complaint for impeachmet against Supreme Court Chief Justice Hon. Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, filed by Atty. Lorenzo G. Gadon at the House of Representitives today, December 11, 2017. (kevin Tristan Espiritu)

Hon. Noel G. Tijam – Associate Justice of Supreme Court of the Philippines testifies on delay in resolution of transfer of Maute Cases in complaint for impeachment against Supreme Court Chief Justice Hon. Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, filed by Atty. Lorenzo G. Gadon at the House of Representatives today, December 11, 2017. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu)

During the hearing, SC Associate Justice Noel Tijam, an invited resource person in the proceedings, commented during his interpellation by congressmen that there was a “certain degree of mental dishonesty” with Sereno’s resolution on the sought transfer of Maute cases since it wasn’t the result of an en banc session.

In an earlier hearing by the panel, Aguirre testified that he wrote Sereno on May 29 to ask for the transfer of the trial of Maute suspects to either Luzon or Visayas, for security reasons. However, the SC moved the venue of the cases to Cagayan de Oro City, which is still in Mindanao.

Deinla said the Chief Magistrate acted on it immediately by including it in the agenda of the June 6 en banc session.

“At bago yun, June 5, nag-circulate na siya ng kanyang draft resolution ng kanyang opinyon tungkol sa bagay na ito na natanggap ng mga Justices (And before that, on June 5, she circulated a draft resolution on her opinion about the matter which was received by the Justices),” Deinla said.

The lawyer stressed that the Sereno resolution was not opposed by her fellow magistrates.

“Ngayon ang katakataka, bakit nagiging issue ito samantalang wala namang nag-object sa kanila, walang tumutol. At in fact na issue ito as an en banc resolution on the same

day, June 6 (It’s mysterious, but why did this become an issue when nobody from them objected, nobody opposed it. And in fact this was issued as an en banc resolution on the same day, June 6),” she said.

Normal proceedings at the High Tribunal call for the raffling off of the DOJ request to the 15 members of the collegial body.

According to Deinla, the SC’s raffle committee headed by Associate Justice Teresita de Castro assigned the request to Sereno.

“Ang isa pang mahalagang bagay din yung nangyari nung nag-[motion] for reconsideration si Justice secretary, ang naging member-in-charge ho talaga si Chief Justice noong June 19 sapagkat inassign sa kanya ng raffle committee yung kaso. Kaya siya naging member-in-charge.”

(Another important development was in connection with the Justice secretary’s motion for reconsideration, on June 19 the Chief Justice really became member-in-charge of the case because she was assigned by the raffle committee. That’s why she became member-in-charge.)

Deinla said Justice De Castro should be the one asked as to why this happened.

It can be recalled that Aguirre filed a motion for reconsideration regarding the transfer of the Maute case venue on June 13. He cited the safety of the members of the judiciary who would conduct inquest proceedings, preliminary investigation and trial of the cases against the alleged terrorists.

Deinla further argued: “Wala namang ganansya si Chief Justice Sereno na i-delay yung mga kaso na ito. Anong makukuha niya kapag pinahamak niya yung mga court personnel at hukom na naghahandle ng mga kaso tungkol sa Maute?”

(Delaying the case does no favors to Chief Justice Sereno. What will she gain from endangering the lives of the court personnel and judges who handle the cases of the Maute?)

The ISIS-linked terrorists occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur on May 23. It took five months before they were defeated by government forces.

the highest political voting regions – Region 3, NCR and Region 4,” Gordon said.

“The point I want to make here is that we have to be steadfast at serving the people here. And maybe we should ensure there’s no politics when it comes to medicine,” the senator said.

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