Romualdez: Let’s respect Sereno
• August 5, 2014
• Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
• Published in Top Stories
THE House committee on justice decided yesterday to continue inviting in the next hearing Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno despite the snub Tuesday as House independent minority bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez appealed to his colleagues to respect the decision of the chief magistrate.
“We will invite her again, this is healthy to democracy. Nagtataka lang ako sa pag-iwas. Dapat kapag pondo na ang pinag-usapan, patas-patas lang tayo kasi usapin ito ng public accountability. I am really expecting her or her representatives to attend the next hearing,” raid Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., the panel chairman.
Romualdez said Sereno has the prerogative to skip the hearing if she feels this would turn into a venue to get back at them following SC adverse rulings.
“Let us respect her decision, it is her prerogative,” said Romualdez as he maintained that the investigation on how the controversial P1.775 billion Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) or the so-called judiciary’s “pork barrel” has been spent was ill-timed because that be misconstrued as direct attempt to get back at members of the Supreme Court (SC) following adverse rulings declaring unconstitutional the priority development assistance fund (DAP) and key provisions of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Nevertheless, Romualdez, a lawyer, clarified that there was nothing wrong to call for the full-accounting in the use of the controversial JDF for good governance because it is still part of public funds.
Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting agreed with Romualdez on the accountability of public funds, but stressed that “there is no retaliation here because Congress has the power of the purse.”
In a three-page letter to Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., Sereno said the investigation does not promote good relationship between Congress and Judiciary.
“My view of the manner, timing and context in which a committee of the House is proposing to inquire to into the JDF as indicated in its letter (of invitation), is that they leave much to be desired, and at this point, do not seem to be fully cognizant of the kind of healthy relationship that should exist between, on the one hand, the House of Representatives, and on the other, the Supreme Court,” Sereno said.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said the absence of SC representatives could be taken by the panel as a “waiver” of their right to participate.
“Their absence could be considered as a waiver,” said Barzaga, who raised the need to investigate the use of JDF as early as last year.
At the same time, Tupas scored the snub, saying it was the first time in his four years as chair of the panel that the SC did not send a representative to the hearing.
Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva and SC Fiscal Management and Fiscal Management and Budget Office head, deputy clerk of court Corazon Ferrer-Flores also did not attend the hearing pending guidance from the High Court.