CA justice’s widow dies without receiving pension

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
  CA justice�s widow dies without receiving pension

The STAR learned that the application for pension benefits of Colayco or “Lola Dolly,” who needed money for her living expenses and to sustain her medication, was among the pending applications before the office of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. CSIS/CC BY-NC-SA, File

MANILA, Philippines — Dolores Colayco, a 94-year-old widow of a retired Court of Appeals justice, passed away recently without receiving survivorship benefits that she had long asked from the Supreme Court (SC).

The STAR learned that the application for pension benefits of Colayco or “Lola Dolly,” who needed money for her living expenses and to sustain her medication, was among the pending applications before the office of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Sereno’s inaction on the applications for survivorship benefits of spouses of deceased justices and judges was among the grounds cited in the impeachment complaint by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon.

Gadon accused the Chief Justice of betrayal of public trust by sitting on the applications for about one year.

“When the impeachment complaint was filed, that’s the only time she acted on the applications and endorsed them to the full court for approval. She even blamed the Office of the Court (Administrator) when in fact the applications have long been forwarded to her office,” he alleged.

“No wonder Chief Justice Sereno has no support from fellow SC and CA justices and other lower court judges as well court employees association – unlike the outpouring and overwhelming support accorded to the late chief justice (Renato) Corona at the time of his unfounded and unjust impeachment,” Gadon claimed.

Corona was convicted by the Senate as an impeachment court for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution, and charges were later filed against him for failing to declare complete statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Corona’s impeachment was backed by the public at the time based on surveys because the people believed it upped the level of accountability on the part of government officials holding high and confidential positions.

Among other charges like her supposed failure to act on the pensions, Sereno’s SALNs are also now being questioned and cited as grounds to impeach her.

Under the law, surviving spouses of deceased justices or judges are given financial benefits through monthly pension while they are alive.

The STAR earlier reported that Sereno has met with leaders of employees’ unions in the judiciary in an apparent move to gather support while she faces impeachment proceedings before the House of Representatives.

It was Sereno who called for the meeting in her office, which was attended by officers of the Supreme Court Employees Association.

The source said the SC chief did not specifically ask them to issue a manifesto of support for her as she braces for impeachment trial in the Senate.

Sereno, who held such meeting only after five years in the top judicial post, discussed several issues with the employees’ unions.

The Chief Justice, according to the source, also blamed the SC’s Office of Administrative Services for the delay in promotions of court staff seeking higher positions.

The Chief Justice was earlier accused by a fellow magistrate in the SC of delaying the filling of vacant ranking positions in the high court supposedly to wait for members of her staff to qualify for the posts.

Sereno vowed there would be no more delays in the release of benefits of court employees.

Sources said Sereno is also planning to meet with leaders of judges’ organizations, which have also not expressed support for her amid the impeachment case.

Sereno’s move to meet court employees came after The STAR reported that employees’ groups in the SC and appellate and lower courts have no plans to back Sereno in her ordeal and hold a similar “Black Monday” protest they had during the impeachment of Corona in 2012.

At the time, SC employees took time off from their lunch breaks to march along Padre Faura street in black shirts and black armbands and even covered the bronze statues of former chief justices Cayetano Arellano and Jose Abad Santos with black cloth to protest what they said was “death of democracy.”

Judges’ organizations also have not expressed support for Sereno – unlike during Corona’s time when they issued manifesto of support and also joined the Black Monday protest.  

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, an opposition lawmaker, has called on judges to support Sereno during the national convention of the Metropolitan and City Judges Association of the Philippines in Legazpi City held recently.

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