MANILA (Mabuhay) – The timing of the House investigation may be dubious, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Supreme Court still owes the public an explanation on how it utilizes the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), a senator said Thursday.
“Wala namang above the law,” said Senator Francis Escudero at a news forum at the Senate. “The issues and the principles of accountability and transparency apply to all, even to SC, even to the chief justice, as it does with the President and all of us.”
Still, he believes it was “bad timing” for the House of Representatives to investigate the JDF following the SC’s unfavorable ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which are both discretionary funds.
“Hindi ko maikakaila parang napakasama ng timing at talagang mukhang resbak yan lalo na yung imbestigasyon sa JDF,” he said.
Escudero, however, refused to comment on the plan of Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas to file an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno over the alleged questionable use of the JDF.
“Decision nila yun, ayaw kong panghimasukan. Dapat kahit sinong senador ay wag na magsalita muna dahil baka sabihin na pinI-prejudge namin,” he said.
An impeachment complaint is initiated in the House, which will vote for or against it. Once the House votes for the impeachment of an official, it will be brought to the Senate, which will be convened into an impeachment court to try the case.
Sereno had earlier snubbed the House inquiry on JDF and instead sent a letter saying the investigation is premature.
Escudero, a former House member, recalled that former Chief Justice Hilario Davide did the same during a long-ago attempt by the chamber to look into the JDF.
“That was when the House tried to impeach Davide. The SC issued a TRO (temporary restraining order) against the House of Representatives at that time. Ang ginawa ng House noon, ay pinagbotohan ang TRO pero kulang ang boto so natapos dun,” he said.
At present, no resolution has been filed in the Senate seeking inquiry on the JDF. Escudero, who has no plans of filing one, said the SC always submits a report on the JDF to the Senate during budget hearings.
He also dismissed worst-case scenarios that could result from the clash between the highest court in the land and the House of Representatives.
“I think our institutions are strong enough to withstand these kinds of noises and these types of issues,” he said, recalling how the three branches of government “survived” the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.
“Yung pinakamatindi na sigurong banggaan sa pagitan ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno… ay nung na-impeach si dating Chief Justice Renato Corona. Pero nag-survive, na-withstand yun ng institutions,” he said.
Escudero urged the SC and the House of Representatives to resolve the issue between them. (MNS)