Gadon shows Sereno's SALNs as proof she didn't declare ₱37M income from PIATCO case

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Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (left) and lawyer Larry Gadon

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno never declared the estimated US$745,000 or P37 million she earned as a private lawyer in a landmark arbitration case in any of her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) from 2010 until 2016, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon said.

Gadon, who filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno, showed reporters on Wednesday certified true copies of her SALN from 2010 to 2016 as proof of her failure to declare the legal fees she earned when she represented the government before an international arbitration court.

In his complaint, Gadon said Sereno's failure to declare the multimillion-peso legal fee constitutes betrayal of public trust, an impeachable offense in the 1987 Constitution.

The lawyer said none of Sereno's SALNs reflected her earnings from the arbitration case.

"If she declared assets, real properties and other personal assets as far as 2005 and below, bakit di na-declare yung 2005 and up, eh yung PIATCO, kinita yun nung... that's after 2005 na," Gadon said.

"It should have been declared either as in acquisitions of properties or personal properties, or at least cash in bank. That's consistent in all SALNs," he added.

The Chief Justice, through her spokesperson, Attorney Carlo Cruz, has denied this, and the three other allegations of corruption, culpable violation of the constitution, and high crimes in Gadon's impeachment complaint.

Many of Gadon's allegations are "unsupported by evidence" or "rely mainly on hearsay," Cruz said in a statement.

"We maintain that, contrary to the findings of the House Committee on Justice, none of the allegations in the Gadon complaint is true. For this reason, we respectfully submit that the complaint cannot be considered sufficient in form and substance," the statement said.

He reiterated the complaint did not have enough evidence to substantiate impeachment.

"It would appear that there is no evidence which can be considered as enough to substantiate," Cruz told CNN Philippines' "News Night" on Wednesday.

Sereno's net worth has risen steadily since she was appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 2010.

Her SALN in 2010 listed a net worth of ₱17,762,167.26. For 2011 and 2012, Sereno's net worth was at the ₱18-million mark.

In 2013, a year after she was appointed as Chief Justice, Sereno's net worth jumped to ₱19,012,648.21. It rose by about ₱500,000 the following year.

For 2015, Sereno had a net worth of ₱22,173,465.38.

As of December 2016, her net worth stood at ₱24,249,941.14.

Sereno represented the Department of Transportation and Communications when the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) sued for damages over the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Terminal 3 in 2003.

The case was heard before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Singapore.

Expensive trips

In addition to failing to declare her earnings, Gadon accused Sereno of using public funds to fly herself, her security team and staff business class for domestic and international trips.

The complaint mentioned Sereno's stay at the ₱200,000-a-night Presidential Villa of Shangri-La Boracay in 2016 for a conference as proof of her lavish lifestyle.

Of all the allegations he listed in the impeachment complaint, Gadon said the strongest arguments against her will be the undeclared income in her SALN and her travel expenses.

"Sinu-sino ba mga sinasama niya sa travel? Kailangan bang isama yun? At kailangan ba yung kasama, business class? Ano yung purpose ng travel?" he asked.

Gadon said he has requested for additional documents from the Supreme Court, including official receipts for Sereno's trips, to boost his case against her.

'A winning case'

Despite the statement of Sereno's spokesperson, Carlo Cruz, that the allegations against her are false, Gadon believes he has a strong case against the Chief Justice.

"I know that I have a winning case and I know deep in the hearts of the lawyers of CJ Sereno, alam nilang matatalo sila. Plus the fact that this is a political game, a numbers game, alam naman nila yan," he said.

Gadon said Sereno's legal team may be vehemently denying the allegations against her because they have yet to see the documents he obtained.

"There are hundreds of pages of documents here. Certified true copies of documents issued by no less than the Supreme Court, so para sabihin na no basis, probably hindi pa nila nakikita," he said.