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Evasive SC clerk of court earns solons’ ire

The clerk of court of the Supreme Court yesterday drew the ire of lawmakers for continuously hiding under the cloak confidentiality rule on administrative matters which the congressional members of the House Impeachment Committee hearing the case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on probable cause insist is no longer deemed confidential after the SC en banc had allowed court justices and officials to testify in the hearings, under certain conditions, but which witness claim of confidentiality does not fall under that condition.

At the the resumption of the hearing on the Chief Justice, committee Chair Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali slammed SC clerk of court Felipa Anama for being evasive about the SC’s transferring of Maute cases to the court in Taguig.
“Let’s not run around in circles here,” Umali told Anama.
Umali issued the warning after Anama continued to invoke the confidentiality rule saying her name was not mentioned in the SC resolution that allowed court justices and employees to testify in the hearing.
Citing Rule 7 of the SC’s internal rules, Anama said she could not discuss confidential bar matters, administrative cases, and criminal cases.
This was after the members of the panel asked Anama whether Sereno was a member-in-charge in the Maute cases.
However, Umali said there was no need for Anama to hide under the cloak of confidentiality rule as no less than Sereno herself had admitted in her verified answer that she was the member-in-charge for the cases.

Impeachment complainant complainant Lorenzo Gadon said Sereno committed culpable violations of the Constitution when she “manipulated and thereafter delayed the resolution of A.M. No. 17-06-02-SC or the request of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to transfer the Maute cases outside of Mindanao) after realizing that she lost in the voting.”
Gadon said that on June 19, Sereno caused the resolution on the Maute cases be “raffled” to her after earlier “assigning” it to SC Associate Justice Noel Tijam, “which is in total disregard of the internal rules of the court and therefore highly questionable.”
Loyalty to CJ questioned
Another committee member, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta questioned rthe same SC officer on her alleged “loyalty” to Sereno.
The SAGIP party-list Representative Marcoleta asked Amana to confirm if her term had been extended by Sereno, to which she replied positively.
With Anama’s admission, Marcoleta said her loyalty to Sereno may have been affected.
“Therefore, there appears to be a tendency on your part [to be loyal to Sereno], because your term has been extended under her term,” Marcoleta told Anama.
But she countered this, saying, “I beg to disagree, your honor. It’s just work,” adding that she is loyal only to the institution.
Marcoleta pointed out to Anama her act earlier in the hearing that she may have been trying to cover up for Sereno by refusing to answer questions from the lawmakers.
Invoking confidentiality, Anama repeatedly refused to disclose which Supreme Court justice served as the member-in-charge for the transfer of venue of Maute case proceedings from Mindanao in some other place.
“So if you’re saying that you are loyal to the institution, please show it,” Marcoleta told Anama.
Meanwhile, the head of the technical working group (TWG) blamed for the granting of survivorship benefits to the surviving spouses of deceased justices and judges on Wednesday denied that they took their “sweet time” in processing applications of beneficiaries.
Lawyer Jocelyn Fabian, chair of the TWG under the Special Committee on Retirement and Civil Service Benefits, said the committee simply subjected each application to a “thorough” study to determine whether or not applicants were entitled to the benefits.
Marcoleta insisted, during a lengthy round of questioning, that the committee prioritized “studying” applications for their merit to the need of the grant’s beneficiaries “who may go anytime,” as many of them were supposedly aged 80 and up.
“You took your sweet time, madam,” Marcoleta told Fabian, adding a claim made by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, who said that prior to the creation of the committee, similar applications were processed in “two to three weeks,” much shorter than the “two years” the committee is accused of delaying the process by.
“We beg to disagree,” Fabian said, but was only later able to explain her response.
Fabian said: “To streamline, sir, does not necessarily mean in our understanding that the two weeks (delay) have to be retained. It also must be stressed when we grant the benefits, when we recommend that applications are approved, that we can be very sure that these are indeed covered by the law because we are talking here, sir, of obligations of the government involving taxpayers’ money.”
Sereno is accused, among others, of delaying the release of benefits to beneficiaries.
6 more SC justices
to attend hearing
The House Committee on Justice bared six more Supreme Court Associate Justices, including one former magistrate, will be called to the impeachment proceedings against Sereno when the panel resumes its hearing on Monday, December 11.
Umali, said the following would be invited: Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Samuel Martires, Mariano del Castillo, and former Associate Justice Arturo Brion.
De Castro had appeared at the committee’s hearing on November 29.
CJ camp refutes transfer
delay of Maute cases
The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno yesterday denied Gadon’s allegation that the Chief Justice delayed the resolution of the petition raised by Justice Secretary to transfer the cases involving the Maute group from Cagayan de Oro to Taguig.
Lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, in an interview, said there is no issue in the resolution of the Supreme Court which started to deliberate on the issue on June 6, 2017 and has come out with a resolution on the same day.
Lacanilao said the delay ensued when Aguirre filed a motion for reconsideration on June 13.
The Supreme Court was in recess. En banc started in June 6.
“And in about two weeks the Supreme Court issued a resolution transferring from CDO to Taguig. It was their decision. on why they prioritized the resolution, it was their wisdon,” Lacanilao said.
He explained that the decision was not made by Sereno alone. It was the collective decision of the Court.
“So where is the delay there?” he said.
“We are at a loss on why this has resulted in a case, an issue and a culpable violation of the Constitution especially for CJ Sereno,” Lacanilao said.
“Why the CJ only? The decision was arrived at by the whole Supreme Court with 15 members,” Lacanilao said.
In a statement, Sereno’s camp said that the Chief Justice did not act upon the request of the Secretary of Justice unilaterally. As the letter of the Secretary of Justice was personally addressed to her and considering the urgency of the matter, she discussed the matter with the Supreme Court En Banc even prior to the matter being raffled. Since the Supreme Court En Banc acted on the request, the raffle committee assigned the administrative matter to the Chief Justice consistent with the standard practice of the Clerk of Court. The administrative matter was part of the raffle proceedings and although it was assigned to the Chief Justice, the assignment was confirmed by the members of the raffle committee composed of three justices of the Supreme Court.

1 comment

  • ght

    Puro hindi sinungaling, puro hindi iwas, puro tama at puno ng alam "wisdom" - yan supreme court culture - c y a (cover your ass) .

    Paano tayo maka asa ng tamang hukom kung ganyan ang mga iyan.

    ght Thursday, 07 December 2017 11:08 Comment Link

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