‘No need for CJ psych test’
THE camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday said there was no need for her psychological records in pursuing the impeachment complaint against her in the House of Representatives.
Lawyer Carlo Cruz assailed the move of lawyer Larry Gadon, who filed the impeachment case against Sereno, to seek the Supreme Court’s order to compel the Judicial and Bar Council to release the psychiatric test results of Sereno when she was appointed chief justice in 2012 supposedly for use in the proceedings before the House of Representatives.
“The psychological records of the Chief Justice has nothing to do with any of the impeachable grounds raised in the complaint,” Cruz said, in an interview.
According to Sereno’s spokesman, even if the Chief Justice would allow the release of such record—a matter that involves her privacy—the decision was beyond her.
“Even if she were to allow [its release], it still would be up to the JBC. It’s a policy matter; something which may be invoked later as a precedent so the JBC would need to deliberate carefully on this matter,” Cruz stressed.
Gadon earlier asked the JBC to release Sereno’s psychological records which she submitted for her application to the post of chief magistrate post in 2012, saying these were “imbued with great public interest.”
However, the council chaired by Sereno denied the request, prompting Gadon to bring the matter to the SC.
“Considering that the JBC is ‘under the supervision of the [SC],’ as expressly provided in Section 8 (1), Article VIII, 1987 Constitution, and the results of the psychological/psychiatric test of Chief Justice Sereno are not covered by the confidentiality rule as they concern her very fitness to be and remain as Chief Justice, and thus imbued with great public interest, it is most respectfully prayed that this honorable court reverse or reconsider the disapproval by the JBC and order the immediate release of certified true copies of the results of the psychiatric tests of Chief Justice Sereno,” Gadon’s motion stated.
The SC earlier required the JBC to comment on the plea within five days, but no such order was released by the high court to the media.
In Gadon’s impeachment complaint, he accused Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust over alleged undisclosed assets in her statement of asset, liabilities and net worth and extravagant spending of judicial funds by purchasing a P5-million Toyota Land Cruiser and traveling on first-class flights among the grounds.
The complainant also cited as basis Sereno’s order in 2012 to reopen a regional constitutional administrative office in Cebu without the collegial approval of the Court, which was later on revoked by the SC.
The SC earlier granted the request of the complainants for the release of court documents and records to support their charges against her.
Sereno’s camp has rejected Gadon’s call for her resignation from the top judicial post while facing the impeachment proceedings.
Cruz said: “None of the allegations rises to an impeachable offense. The complaint against her seems designed to maximize the political spectacle, with the goal of eroding her credibility through innuendo and malicious allegations.
“This is detrimental to the independence of the judiciary upon whom all citizens rely to defend their rights and to check any abuse.”
He also revealed that the SC chief had agreed to a lifestyle check in case of a request.
The lawyer vowed to address all allegations in the answer they would file next week.