For the 2nd time, Arroyo lawyer asks Sereno to inhibit
MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Jose Miguel Arroyo again sought the inhibition of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday, September 10, this time from a case questioning the legality of the joint panel that implicated Arroyo and his wife, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in alleged electoral fraud in the 2007 senatorial elections.
Arroyo's lawyers - Ferdinand Topacio and Joselito Lomangaya - said Sereno should inhibit from the case that casts doubt on the validity of the creation of the joint panel of the Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that probed the reported cheating in the 2007 senatorial elections. The DOJ-Comelec panel found probable cause against Mrs Arroyo and filed a case of electoral sabotage against her with the Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 112.
The Arroyo camp said that there is no existing law that enables the creation of the panel. Arroyo's lawyers said the Comelec compromised its "independence" when it teamed up with DOJ to probe the Arroyos.
In their second motion, Topacio cited the same grounds that he mentioned in the first motion for inhibition that they filed against Sereno on September 6.
Topacio said Sereno displayed bias in favor of the Aquino administration in the following cases:
a.) Truth Commission: The majority ruled in 2010 that the the commission, which was formed to probe Arroyo, was unconstitutional. Sereno voted otherwise.
b.) The issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez: The then Ombudsman had asked the SC in 2010 to stop the committee on justice in the House of Representatives from proceeding with the impeachment hearing against her. The majority voted to grant her petition; Sereno dissented.
c.) The issuance of a TRO sought by Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel: The SC issued a TRO in 2011 which stopped the Department of Justice from enforcing its travel ban against the Arroyo couple. Sereno disagreed with the decision.
d.) The TRO issuance that stopped the disclosure of the dollar accounts owned by then Chief Justice Renato Corona: The PsBank had sought the TRO after Corona's dollar accounts were brought up in his impeachment trial at the Senate. The majority voted for the issuance of the TRO. Sereno dissented.
e.) The release of SC records and appearance of Court employees in Corona's impeachment trial: Sereno voted in favor of providing the Senate with Court documents related to the allegations brought up by the prosecution against Corona, as well as in allowing Court employees to testify before the impeachment court.
f.) The distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farmers: Sereno voted in favor of distributing the 4,000-hectare sugar plantation to farmers, but said land valuation for the just compensation of the Cojuangco family (the family of President Aquino's mother) should be pegged at the 2006 value (P2.5 million/hectare), and not the 1989 fair market value (P40,000/hectare).
Arroyo's lawyers stressed that the High Court's decision on the case of the DOJ-Comelec panel will ultimately decide Mrs Arroyo's fate. If the SC finds the panel unconstitutional, its findings will be rendered null andvoid.
"The incarceration and continued prosecution of Mrs Arroyo on an electoral sabotage indictment is the lynchpin of the current administration’s self-declared crusade for good governance, and a matter of pride and ‘face’ for the incumbent President; hence, if the Joint Panel is struck down, the sitting President will be embarrassed and his political stock diminished," Mr Arroyo's lawyers argued.
"It is thus not far-fetched to strongly assume that Madame Chief Justice Sereno will once again come to the rescue of President Cojuangco-Aquino III by voting in favor of the Joint Panel’s legality." - Rappler.com
For related articles, read:
- Timeline: Arroyo and her electoral sabotage case
- Sandiganbayan: Why was Arroyo released?
- Arroyo bail: Forgive and forget?
- Arroyo, 9 others charged with plunder
- Comelec broke rules to charge Arroyo
- Graft court summons Arroyo doctors
- Court stops plunder hearing vs Arroyo
- Witness vs Arroyo credible, says Comelec