By Rey Panaligan
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Sunday the graft cases filed against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno have been forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation.
The graft cases against Sereno were filed in January by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon who also lodged an impeachment complaint against her before the House of Representatives.
The impeachment complaint did not push through as Sereno was removed as head of the judiciary in a quo warranto case filed with the Supreme Court (SC) by Solicitor General Jose C. Calida.
Gadon cited Sereno for graft for her failure to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) for 17 years during her stint at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law.
Specifically, Gadon accused Sereno of violating Republic Act 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) and RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
He said Sereno violated RA 6713 when she submitted only three SALNs during her stint as a law professor at the UP College of Law from 1986 to 2006 prior to her SC appointment in 2012.
On RA 3019, he said Sereno violated the law which “requires every public officer to prepare and file a true and detailed sworn statement of assets and liabilities, including a statement of the amounts and sources of income, the amounts of personal and family expenses, and the amount of income taxes paid.”
Preliminary investigation on Gadon’s complaints was shelved since at the time they were filed, Sereno was still Chief Justice.
In turning over the complaints to the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation, Guevarra said: “Since it’s a graft case, it must be investigated by the Ombudsman.”