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CJ Sereno: Impeachment rap does not affect me at all

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno remains unfazed despite facing a possible impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives. The STAR / MIGUEL DE GUZMAN, File

MANILA, Philippines — Amid questions about her supposedly lavish lifestyle and threats to remove her from office, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno stood by her record on Thursday, saying she is confident that impeachment efforts against her will not prosper.

Sereno said that she is not fazed by threats to remove her from office following allegations that she made illegal appointments, provided unlawful allowances to her staff and failed to fill crucial judicial positions.

“Just give it the right attention so that you understand that when the time comes, you are ready, but you should not be fazed because I have not done anything wrong,” she said in a town hall meeting in Cebu City.

Sereno said that all expenses for judicial reform, her travels, security and vehicle requirements were regular and above board.

She said that public documents will attest to this and would speak for themselves.

'I have served the country with all faith and diligence'

“Nothing can be proven against me that will show that the chief justice has betrayed her oath of office. I have served the country with all faith and diligence. I will never waver from that pledge,” the chief justice said.

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Early in August, an anti-crime group initiated a complaint against the chief justice citing her alleged culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust through inexcusable negligence.

However, no member of the House has come forward to endorse the complaint. Only then can it be considered officially filed.

READ: Sereno accuser sees 90 solons backing impeachment complaint

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, whose president and founder is a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, accused Sereno of constitutional breach after she appointed lawyer Solomon Lumba as her staff head despite prohibitions for an appointed government official to hold another public post unless provided by law.

Sereno also allegedly committed a culpable violation of the Constitution by appointing Brenda Jay Mendoza as chief of the Philippine Mediation Center Office through a mere memorandum and not by a Court en ban resolution, according to VACC.

The chief justice also allegedly illegally granted members of her staff travel allowances for their foreign travel, which were charged to the funds of the High Court sans approval of the en banc, VACC said.

The last ground cited by the anti-crime group was the alleged negligence of Sereno for sitting on the applications for the posts of deputy clerk and chief attorney of the SC.

These two posts have been vacant for three years and eight months, it said.

Sereno also has not filled the two positions for assistant court administrator which have been vacant for four years and six months.

During the forum, Sereno refused to answer if she had received information that Duterte was behind the plots to remove her from office.

The presidential palace has already given assurance before that Duterte would not meddle in any attempt to impeach the chief justice.

She described her relationship with Duterte as “professional.”

“The fact that he has mandate to lead, we must observe what the Constitution says. I am very professional with my dealings with all officials of government,” she said.

The High Court en ban has also approved the release of documents meant to support the move to impeach Sereno.

One justice has expressed willingness to testify against Sereno should the trial against her proceed, saying that several of the allegations in the complaint against Sereno involved matters that only court insiders would know.

Sereno is also being questioned for purchasing a P5.1-million luxury vehicle for her official use. Sereno is the only justice who has a new vehicle as her colleagues are still using their old service vehicles.

Before the VACC complaint, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez warned Sereno that she might be removed following allegations that she had instructed the Court of Appeals to defy a show cause order from the chamber against three of the CA justices.

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