|Issue (Gadon’s Complaint)||Answer
(of the Chief Justice)
SALN and taxes
|· The Chief Justice was engaged to help defend the country from the cases filed by Fraport and PIATCO, who claimed a combined total of US$ 990,000,000 plus interest and lost profits against the PHL Government in connection with the NAIA Terminal 3 Project. The Chief Justice earned around US$ 594,000 from nearly five years of hard work to help the country win the two international cases.
· The Chief Justice reported all her earnings from the case in her ITRs and fully paid the required taxes thereon. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in fact, deducted withholding taxes and certified to the BIR all amounts paid to then Atty. Sereno for legal services rendered from 2003-2008.
· She did not earn US$745,000 or Php 37 million, as alleged in the Complaint. Before deducting taxes, the Chief Justice’s peso equivalent earnings from the two cases amounted to around PhP 30.3 million. The remaining amount after taxes of approximately Php 8.67 million, has been spent over time for various asset acquisitions (house, lot, furniture and improvements, personal effects) and investments; these are all reflected in the CJ’s current SALN. The rest went to the family’s tithes, offerings, living, medical, and other operating expenses.
· All earnings, tax payments, and asset acquisitions from the remainder of her fees occurred prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court.
· This issue has no factual basis and has no place in an impeachment complaint.
Security vehicle Toyota Land Cruiser
|· Judges, lawyers and prosecutors have been assassinated. It is in keeping with security protocol that the highest judge of the land be protected in a security vehicle. The DBM, in fact, expressly recognizes the necessity and reasonability of purchasing such a security vehicle for the Chief Justice (Section 3.1 of DBM AO No. 233 issued in 2008; Section 2.2 of DBM Budget Circular No. 2010-2)
· The purchase of this vehicle, including its price, was duly authorized and approved by the Supreme Court En Banc. (Resolution dated 28 March 2017 in A.M. No. 17-03-06-SC, approved the acquisition of the Land Cruiser for the price of P5,110,500.00)
· As impeachment complainant-endorser Congressman Nograles himself said, the purchase was legal.
· The performance of a legal act has no place in an impeachment complaint
Business class travel and foreign trips
|· The SC rules recognize the necessity of allowing the Chief Justice to travel by business class, in recognition of her position and the need to provide her with the resources to ensure that she is fully prepared for all her international and speaking engagements. Considering her work load, she does not allot days to rest upon arrival in a foreign country before plunging into work.
· The Supreme Court En Banc approved the Supreme Court Human Resource Manual through A.M. No. 00-6-1-SC dated 31 January 2012, or
before the Chief Justice assumed her position
· Section II.A.1, Chapter Twelve of the Human Resource Manual, provides that “(f)oreign travel of Justices or Judges and court personnel must
be duly approved by the Chief Justice and/or the Chairpersons of the Divisions.” All travels and related expenses properly went through the established approval process
· Under its Rule XII-19, II.B.6.b, the Chief Justice is allowed to travel on “full business class”. (This rule was recently amended to benefit all
members of the Supreme Court.)
· All trips are made in pursuit of official court business to further judicial reform, systems development and ASEAN, Asia-Pacific and other
international judicial relations.
· The Chief Justice is very prudent in handling the court’s resources. She does not allow junkets of any kind for all her delegations.
· All the members of her delegation have specific roles to play in the official trips. Some are fellow justices, judges and senior court officials.
· In most of her trips, she brought as aide only her chief of staff. Bringing an aide allowed her to continue performing her functions as head of
the Judiciary, the Judicial and Bar Council, the Justice Sector Coordinating Council, the Constitutional Fiscally Autonomous Agencies of Government, and chair of the Philippine Judicial Academy, even while abroad. In two of her trips, she brought no aide at all and this had a negative impact on her efficiency.
· Foreign travels (and related travel expenses) for court staff do not have to be approved by the Supreme Court En Banc
· The CJ’s travel by business class is appropriate to her position, are all perfectly legal, and have no place in an impeachment complaint
Use of presidential villa
|· The presidential villa in Shangri-la Boracay had already been paid for as meeting room and official photos venue for the 10 ASEAN Chief Justices. It was where the important Boracay Accord of the 3rd ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting was signed.
· The Philippines hosted the 3rd ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting in 2015. The Supreme Court En Banc approved a Php2.6 million budget for the meeting. The Court-approved budget specifically included the use of the “presidential villa” to be used as the “Function Space” (with a “Boardroom” setup), for a “Whole Day Meeting” of the ten Chief Justices.
· Instead of booking additional rooms, the Chief Justice, her staff and part of the secretariat were allowed to spend the nights of March 1 and 2 in the presidential villa with no additional charges.
· By using the presidential villa, the Chief Justice actually saved public funds. It is noteworthy that the Resort charged PhP 134,192.00 for the use of the “Presidential Villa” (and not the regular rate of Php280,000.00).
· Being cost conscious and ensuring an appropriate hosting for ten Chief Justices constitutes no kind of offense, much less an impeachable offense.
· The Chief Justice made use of the venue as sleeping quarters to spare the Court from incurring additional expenses for separate accommodations for her and her staff/security.
Petitions for Retirement benefits
|· The Chief Justice has no power to decide on petitions for retirement benefits. All decisions must be made by the Court En Banc.
· What the complainant falsely assumes is that the Chief Justice is responsible for so-called delays in processing retirement claims. As with any personnel claim, the processing of retirement claims involves several levels of review (the Office of the Court Administrator, the Special Retirement Committee, the technical working group that reports to the committee and the Court En Banc.)
· The Chief Justice does not participate in any of these levels of review except as one of 15 voting Members of the Court.
· There has been much improvement in the review and evaluation systems for retirement requests, resulting in more consistent policy rulings by the Court.
· Systems reform and improvement programs are not bases for an impeachment complaint. Systems inefficiency, if any, in the processing of retirement benefits is not an impeachable offense.