Palawan 5 Summit Statement of Support for Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno

We, the 230 delegates of Palawan 5, representing over 100 Christian organizations, denominations, churches and ministerial fellowships in the Philippines do hereby declare our support for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

In her half-decade at the helm of the Philippine Judiciary, Chief Justice Sereno has served with integrity, independence, and impartiality, conducting herself in a manner that befits her office and consistent with the canons of the Bar and the Bench.

Under her stewardship, the Supreme Court has spearheaded much-needed reforms in the Judiciary to ensure transparency and accountability in the High Court and to uphold the independence of the nation’s last bulwark of democracy.

The Book of Proverbs in the Sacred Scriptures teaches us, however, that “one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked” (Proverbs 29:27). At the first hearing of the House Committee on Justice we witnessed this, as its members brazenly denied Chief Justice Sereno her most basic rights, while her accuser was accorded every concession imaginable to present a poorly conceived case built on hearsay and misrepresentations of fact and law.

We believe that the persistent efforts of a powerful few to impeach the Chief Justice on charges that are clearly baseless and malicious are a brazen move to silence a jurist who has consistently handed down decisions that are pro-people and pro-Constitution.

Thus, the present impeachment proceedings are a mockery of the Rule of Law. These are not only an attack on the Chief Justice, they are an assault on the independence of the Judiciary and the institutions necessary to preserve democracy. Should political forces succeed in removing the Chief Justice by the simple expedient of violating her basic rights, they would have damaged the country irreparably y severely weakening one of the institutions we can rely on to check abuse in government and to uphold individual rights under the Constitution.

A rigged process is ultimately a mockery of the Constitution— and sets democracy for a fall. Our own painful history has shown that a government allowed to run roughshod over the rights of one can only be emboldened to trample on the rights of all. Our own experience of authoritarian rule in the not-so-distant past illustrates the danger we all face if but one person is denied his or her basic rights.

If this administration does not recognize the basic rights of the Chief Justice of the Philippines, how do we expect it to respect the basic rights of any Filipino?

this patent injustice. We call on our fellow citizens to stand with Chief Justice Sereno in the face of this partisan attack on judicial independence. We ask our people to echo her call to come to the defense of the Rule of Law.

The time to make a stand for truth, justice and righteousness is NOW. The time to fight for what is right is NOW.

“… and if you swear, ‘As the LORD lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” – Jeremiah 4:2

Palawan 5 Campaign Signature Sheet
List of Members of the House of Representatives 
Materials for Information Campaign:
Briefer on Impeachment
Simplified Answers to Impeachment of CJ Sereno
Judicial Reforms of CJ Sereno
Pray for Chief Justice Sereno

Sa pagdiriwang ng Pagbubukas ng 2018 bilang Taon ng Kaparian at ng mga Relihiyoso 

CBCP Pastoral Exhortation

Unang Linggo ng Adbiyento, ika-3 ng Disyembre 2017

Mga minamahal na kapatid kay Kristo,

Pagbati ng biyaya at kapayapaan sa inyong lahat!

Sumapit na tayo sa ika-anim na taon ng ating siyam na taong paglalakbay patungo sa 2021 – ang ika-500 taon ng pagdating ng pananampalatayang Kristiyano sa Pilipinas. Naganap noong 1521 ang kauna-unahang pagdiriwang ng unang Banal na Misa at ng sakramento ng Binyag sa kapuluan ng Pilipinas. At nagsimula ang debosyon sa Santo Nino sa Cebu. Yan ang pasimula ng pangangaral ng Mabuting Balita sa ating bansa.

Ang taong 2018 ay itinakda para sa Kaparian at sa mga nasa Buhay-Relihiyoso. Kung tutuusin, sila ay maliit na bilang lamang sa Simbahan, ngunit ginagampanan nila ang isang mahalagang papel sa misyon ng Simbahan. Sa ating kultura, sila’y mahalagang instrumento sa mga Layko nang tunay nilang matanggap ang Mabuting Balita at maging isang komunidad ng mga alagad na nangangaral ng Mabuting Balita. Ngunit, hindi rin sila nakaiiwas sa kambal na kamalian ng paghihiwalay ng pananampalataya at kakulangan sa pagiging alagad ni Kristo.

Pinagbagong pinunong-lingkod para sa panibagong pagpapahayag ng Mabuting Balita – ito ang hantungan ng ating mga panalangin at mga gawain sa taong ito. Hangad nating makamit ang pagbubuo at pagpapanibago ng ating mga pagpapahalaga, kaisipan, asal at paraan ng pamumuhay ng Kaparian at ng mga Relihiyoso. Bilang pagsunod sa halimbawa ng Mabuting Pastol, sila’y inaanyayahang maging mga pinunong-lingkod na nangangalaga sa mga minamaliit, nawawala at pinahuhuli. Ito rin ay magiging taon ng muling pagsusuri ng mga pamamaraan ng mga seminaryo at ng paghuhubog sa buhay-Relihiyoso at ng pakikilahok sa mga Layko sa gawain ng misyon at paglilingkod.

Sa pagsapit natin sa pinanibagong pagpapahayag ng Mabuting Balita nabatid natin ang liwanag na sumisinag sa ating daan. Masipag na ipinagdiriwang ng ating mga pari araw-araw ang mga sakramento sa mga abalang lungsod at mga malalayo at liblib na barangay. Ang mga Relihiyoso naman ay nangangasiwa sa mga institusyong pang-simbahan, nagtuturo ng katesismo at naglilingkod sa mga parokya. Sila’y nagdudulot ng kagalakan sa mga bahay-ampunan, ospital at mga bilangguan. Ang ilan ay nagsimula narin umalalay sa rehabilitasyon ng mga nalulong sa ipinagbabawal na gamot. Bagama’t walang abito, ang mga kasapi ng mga institutsyong pang-Layko ay buong katapatang kumikilos para sa ikatataguyod ng Kaharian ng Diyos sa kanilang abang kapamaraanan. Sila’y tunay na nagbibigay sa atin ng inspirasyon at lakas, halimbawa na lamang ay ang pari ng Marawi na si Fr. Teresito “Chito” Soganub na muntik nang mamatay dahil sa pangangalaga sa kanyang mga parokyanong naipit sa putukan ng digmaan. Binibigyang pag-asa nila tayo sa kinabukasan.

Sa kabilang banda, hindi maitatanggi na ang liwanag ng mga ilaw ay nakukublian ng mga nakapamamanglaw na anino mula sa ilang Kaparian at Relihiyoso. May mga pagkakataong nalulungkot tayo dahil sa kanilang karupukan at mga eskandalong kinasasangkutan. Ang mga maling asal na ito ay nananawagan ng tunay na pagninilay at buong kababaang-loob na pagsisisi at pagbabayad-puri. Ang mga kamaliang ito nawa’y magdala sa atin sa bago at mas malawak na pagkakatong magpanibago at makiisa sa mga mahihina at nasisiraan ng loob. Nawa’y ang ating mga pari at Relihiyoso, sa kabila ng kanilang karupukan at pagiging sugatan, ay magpatuloy na maglingkod at gumabay sa mga kapwa-makasalanan taglay ang kagalakan ng Mabuting Balita na maghahatid sa kaganapan ng buhay. Pinalalakas ni Hesus ang ating loob sa pamamagitan ng kanyang salita: “Magdaranas kayo ng kapighatian sa sanlibutang ito, ngunit tibayan ninyo ang inyong loob! Napagtagumpayan ko na ang sanlibutan!” (Juan 16:33)

Ang pagpapanibago ng Simbahan ay nangangailangan ng pagpapanibago ng Kaparian at ng mga Relihiyoso. Dahil dito, kumukuha tayo ng inspirasyon at halimbawa sa magiliw na yugto nang hugasan ni Hesus ang mga paa ng kanyang mga alagad.

ANG PAKIKIPAGKAISA NI HESUS SA AMA

“Alam niyang siya’y mula sa Ama …” (Juan 13:3) – Hindi nawala ang kaisahan ni Hesus sa kanyang makalangit na Ama nang siya’y namuhay dito sa lupa. Ang kanyang pakikiisa at pakikipagpalagayang-loob sa Ama ang nagtulak sa kanya na abutin ang mga makasalanan at mga nangangailangan. Ito ang pinagmumulan ng bisa ng kanyang pananalita at mga himala (cf. Juan 6:38. 46; Juan 8,19. 29).

Bilang mga Layko, mga pari at mga Relihiyoso, inaanyayahan tayong makibahagi sa “pakikipagkaisa” at “pakikipagpalagayang-loob” kay Hesus at sa Ama. Ang Kaparian at mga Relihiyoso ay kaisa ni Kristo sa pagpapahayag ng Salita, sa pagdiriwang ng mga Sakramento at sa Espirituwal na pamumuno. Yan ang dahilan kung bakit tayo tinatawag na mga “alagad ng Diyos”, mga maka-Diyos at ang mas naangkop “lingkod ng Diyos”. Sa pamamagitan ng kanilang paglilingkod na nagpapabanal sila mismo’y napababanal (cf. CCC, 1534).

Ngunit minsan, sila’y tila nalalayo sa Diyos at sa pagtupad ng kanyang kalooban. May ilang nalululong sa mga materyal na bagay, sa kanilang pag-aasam sa sarap ng buhay at sa kapangyarihan. Sa halip na maging mga pinunog-lingkod ng pagkakaisa sila’y nagtutulak pa sa atin sa kalituhan at pagkakawatak-watak. Ipanalangin nating lagi tayong maging kaisa ni Hesus katulad niya na laging kaisa ng Ama! Ipinapanalangin natin ang Kaparian at mga Relihiyoso na patuloy na tumalima kay Hesus ang maging mga ganap na alagad ng Panginoon na laan sa Panibagong Pagpapahayag ng Mabuting Balita. (cf St. John Paul II, Pastores DaboVobis III, 26)

TUMINDIG SI HESUS NANG BUONG KABABAANG-LOOB NA MAGLINGKOD

“Tumindig si Hesus…” (Juan 13:4) – Tumindig si Hesus mula sa hapag upang hugasan ang mga paa ng kanyang mga alagad. Ang kanyang pagmamahal sa kanila ang nag-udyok sa kanyang maglingkod nang buong kababaang-loob.

Sa pamamagitan ng kanyang walang kapagurang lakas sa pakikipag-isa sa Ama, buo ang loob ni Hesus na paglingkuran at mahalin ang mga ipinagkatiwala sa kanya, kahit na hanggang kamatayan, kamatayan sa krus (cf Filipos 2:8). Tayo, bilang kabahagi ng kanyang Simbahan, ay inaanyayahang gawing ganap ang Kaharian ng Diyos na nasa ating piling. Tinatawagan tayong kalingain ang mga higit na nangangailangan, na mahalin at paglingkuran ang mga malalayo sa atin. Ang Kaparian at mga Relihiyoso na binigyan ng tungkuling pamunuan ang ating mga komunidad, na minsan ay nabibigyan ng mga prebilehiyo at entitlement, ay kinakailangang bumangon mula sa kumportable at maalwang posisyon upang bukas-palad at buong kababaang-loob na makapaglingkod. Manindigan nawa sila laban sa mundong na unti-unting nagiging manhid at minsa’y napopoot sa Mabuting Balita, ngunit patuloy na nagugutom sa isang bagay na hindi nito batid. Sa huli, Ang Mabuting Balita ay magwawagi, ang pananampalataya kay Hesus ay mabibigyang-matwid, sapagkat kanyang sinabi: “huwag kayong matakot sapagkat nagapi ko na ang mundo” (Juan 16:33)

“…AT KANYANG HINUGASAN ANG MGA PAA NG MGA ALAGAD.”

“…at hinubad niya ang kanyang damit …kanyang hinugasan ang mga paa ng mga alagad…” (Juan 13:4-5) Habang nakaluhod sa paanan ng mga alagad, hinubad ng Pangnioon ang damit na pananggalang at ibinigkis ang tuwalya ng paglilingkod. Ipinakita niya ang halimbawa ng kababaang-loob sa paghuhugas niya sa kanilang mga pagod at maruruming paa. Pinaalalahanan niya silang gawin iyon sa isa’t isa, “…kung ano ang ginawa ko sa inyo, gawin din ninyo sa isa’t isa” (Juan 13:15)

“Anong ganda ng mga paa ng mga naghahatid ng Mabuting Balita” (Isaias 52:7; Roma 10:15). Kinikilala ng Banal na Kasulatan ang kanilang kagalakan, sila na naghahatid ng mensahe ng Mabuting Balita. Ang tungkuling maghatid ng Mabuting Balita ay may kaakibat na pagdamay, at pagtawid sa kalayuan, dito sa ating bansa at sa mga bansa ng Asia. Dapat nating siguruhin na hindi mawaglit ang sinumang nangangailangan ng galak at pag-asa na hatid ng Mabuting Balita. “Sa mga nasa laylayan!” Ilusad ang ating mga manggas at kumilos! Ang Simbahan ay isang ospital sa larangan ng digmaan! “Duc in altum!”

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A Call to Action

The Philippine House of Representatives  Committee on Population and Family Relations will hold another hearing on the Dissolution of Marriage Bills on December 6, 2017, at 1:30 p.m., at the House Speaker’s Conference Room, Batasang Pambansa Complex, Quezon City.

We invite the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas national organizations, diocesan and archdiocesan councils of the laity, and all concerned Catholics, to bring their statement  and attend said hearing. The concerned bills are the following House Bills:

  • HB 116 “An Act Instituting Absolute Divorce in The Philippines and for Other Purposes”
  • HB 1062 “An Act Amending Title 1, Chapter 3, Of Executive Order No. 209, Otherwise Known as the Family Code Of The Philippines, Prescribing Additional Ground for Annulment”
  • HB 1629 “An Act Legalizing Church Annulment or Dissolution of Certain Marriages and for Other Purposes”
  • HB 2380 “An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines, Amending for the Purpose Articles 26, 55 To 66 And Repealing Article 36 Under Title II of Executive Order No. 209, As Amended, Otherwise Known as the Family Code of the Philippines, and for Other Purposes”
  • HB 3705 “An Act Recognizing the Civil Effects of Church Declaration of Nullity, Annulment and Dissolution of Marriages and for Other Purposes”
  • HB 6027 “An Act Providing For Grounds for the Dissolution of a Marriage”
  • HB 6446 “An Act Recognizing the Capacity of the Filipino Spouse to Remarry when the Alien Spouse Has Obtained a Foreign Judicial Decree of Absolute Divorce, Amending for the Purpose Executive Order No. 209, Otherwise Known as the Family Code of the Philippines”

Sangguniang Laiko will be honored to have your designated official representatives join.

Please leave a message with your name and organization at the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas Facebook page or send a text to Joseph Jesalva at 09771794938 or 09283933184.

Human Traffickers Supply Children to the Sex Business

Fr.Shay Cullen
22 November 2017

The greatest pain for families is when the parents fight, argue, create a violent home, scold and beat the children and then separate. It has happened thousands of times and that is just what happened to mother and father of 12-year old Meanne. Her father disappeared and in despair the mother sold what they had to buy drugs and when that money ran out, she sold herself along the streets of Angeles City to the sex tourists from many countries. Soon, she was unacceptable and became ragged and worn out.

So she gave her daughter Meanne to a human trafficker to be sold into the sex industry to earn money to support her drug habit. Angeles City is well-known for its human traffickers and sex bars along the road known as Fields Avenue. The bars are licensed and have a mayor’s permit to operate. The sex business is considered an important part of the local economy.

The trade in minors is a form of sex slavery because they are in debt bondage to the sex bar operators. They are quickly made dependent on drugs to keep them in debt and they are unable to quit or escape. The entire corrupt industry should be closed down for exploiting women and children. It is an affront and insult to Philippine dignity. It is also a hive of drug abuse and illegal trafficking. The war-on-drugs should be carried into the sex industry and investigate the criminal syndicates and sex mafia that operate the business. There is an estimated 4.5 million sex slaves in the business worldwide and it earns as much as 32 billion US dollars a year.

In Angeles City, as in most towns and cities in the Philippines, the sexual exploitation of young women and children is rampant. Children are trafficked by relatives that offer the children to the throngs of foreign customers who frequent the area and sex bars. In one television report they offered a 14-year-old child to the journalists. (see The Raid on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xRCk8Ni-cs). The minors are trafficked and sold on the side of the road or through cellphone.

Meanne at 12 years old was brought by the pimp first to a Filipino sex tourist and he raped her. Then she was sold to foreign sex tourists in Angeles City. They continually sexually exploited her. One by one they took her to a hotel. The hotel management is accustomed to allowing children and foreigners go inside their establishments. No one cares, it’s just business.

On one occasion, Meanne revealed that she was brought to the residence of a foreign sex tourist . She was passed around like a plaything and abused many times in different places. Finally, there was a concerned citizen who came to know about it and reported the situation to the anti-trafficking task force. There was a rescue operation and a raid on the house of the human trafficker by the anti-trafficking task force on 27 May 2014 and six minor girls, including Meanne, were rescued.

Despite the extent of the abuse of the children no proper investigation as to who were the rapists of the children was made. No local or foreign sex tourist was arrested. They are seemingly immune from arrest and prosecution as they pay the officials and go free. If ever there is a court case against a foreigner for child rape or trafficking it is settled for money one way or the other. The International Justice Mission was behind the rescue and two cases were filed in court against the Filipino traffickers.

Meanne was sent to the government home for trafficked girls but she escaped from there many times and with other minors returned to Angeles and they were picked up and placed in atTransit house but escaped again. Soon she was being sexually exploited again and living on the streets. She thought that was all she was good for and there was no other future for her. She was again found by social workers and this time she was referred to the Preda Home for Girls on 26 September 2017. Her siblings were cared for by the grandmother when her mother was jailed for drug abuse.

Amazingly she decided to stay at Preda although it is an open center and she could easily escape. She was welcomed and reassured that she was a good girl and had no blame for what happened to her. She was told she could start a new life with education and help for her problems. Then the slow but steady transformation began. She felt accepted, understood supported and never was scolded or punished or heard harsh words. It is all forbidden at Preda. She was reminded of her human dignity and rights. She understood her rights were grievously violated by the mother and human traffickers, pimps and the abusers. She realized she was valued and could restore her dignity and her rebellious attitude melted away.

She is now a shy, quiet, peaceful child and happy to help in the kitchen and looks after the small children like they are her sisters. In the Emotional Expression Therapy room, it is another Meanne that is revealed. Her aggression and anger at her abusers and the neglect and lack of love from her parents is poured out and she cries out and shouts and punches the cushions to release her frustrations and anger.

Then after almost an hour she calms down and tells the therapist her feelings and all that happened to her. She is studying again and has become an empowered young girl with self-confidence and growing personality. After such a terrible experience of abuse and exploitation, Meanne is happy successful child.

But the sex business continues and many more children are sold into slavery. They too have to be rescued until the industry is closed down and the children can find freedom, peace, and a better happier life.

end

Summary of Answers on the Impeachment Complaint Vs. Chief Justice Sereno

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.