SC Justice hits CJ Sereno’s orders on appointments, staff travel allowance
By Christopher Lloyd T.Caliwan
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — An associate justice of the Supreme Court (SC) questioned several administrative orders of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, including the appointment of a Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja) official and the grant of travel allowances for her staff.
In a five-page memorandum, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo – De Castro, specifically assailed the appointment of Atty. Brenda Jay Mendoza as Philja chief of office for the Philippine Mediation Center, which she said violated their Administrative Order No. 33-2008 which states that the SC must collegially approve the appointment for the post.
De Castro recalled the appointment of Mendoza’s predecessor, then-Judge Geraldine Faith Econg, which was approved by the SC, in en banc, in a resolution dated July 7, 2015, as provided by the administrative ruling.
De Castro asked her fellow justices to review Sereno’s orders which she argued should have their prior approval as a collegial body as provided under the rules.
She said Mendoza’s appointment in June 2016 was approved only by Sereno and two other senior justices through a memorandum.
“Please note that the Memorandum does not mention the name of the applicant to the position recommended by the Philippine Judicial Academy. No Philja board resolution recommending Atty. Mendoza as PMC chief was submitted to the Court for action unlike in the appointment of PMC chief Econg. Hence, Administrative Order No. 33-2008 was not followed in the appointment of Atty. Mendoza,” read the De Castro memorandum.
In the same memorandum, De Castro also raised concerns on the “long delay” of appointments in key positions in the SC, which are left pending before the Office of the Chief Justice, including the posts of SC Deputy Clerk of Court, Chief Attorney, and two openings for assistant court administrator.
She noted that these positions are “prejudicial to the best interest of service” of the high court. She urged her colleagues to “order the posting of the long vacant positions and adopt guidelines to require expeditious posting and filling-up of vacant positions to serve the best interest of the service.”
De Castro also questioned Sereno’s grant of foreign travel allowance to members of her staff without required approval from the full court.
She revealed that the Chief Justice’s staff members were being given travel allowances even when their trips abroad were on “official time,” which should not involve expenditure of public funds.
De Castro said the frequent travel of Sereno’s staff Atty. Ma. Lourdes Oliveros were “the Chief Justice was granted without the requisite Court en bank approval, which every justice has to secure to be authorized to travel abroad on official business.
“The Chief Justice granted (Oliveros) foreign travel allowances charged to the Supreme Court funds without Court approval. The same is true with the foreign travel of the other staff in the OCJ,” she explained.
De Castro asked her fellow justices to collegially “impose compliance with the requisite Court resolution approving foreign travel of court officials and personnel on official business before the expenditure of [SC] funds is authorized for said travel.”
Sereno is currently facing impeachment threats by leaders of the House of Representatives after allegedly directing Court of Appeals (CA) justices to defy the show cause order issued by the lower house over the case of the so-called “Ilocos 6”. (PNA)