Sereno defends Fabian appointment to SC post

MANILA -- The camp of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday defended lawyer Jocelyn Fabian, whose competence was questioned during the impeachment proceedings against the top magistrate.

In a statement released by her office on Thursday, Sereno denied the allegation that she appointed Fabian as chair of the special committee because the latter was a fellow member of the Christian church where she attends.

The SC chief added that lawyer Fabian is qualified for the position and underwent the regular application and screening process as she expressed "grave concern that her integrity and values � and even her Christian faith - are being unjustly besmirched."

"Considering her background, Atty. Fabian is unquestionably highly qualified and well-equipped to assist the judiciary in the identification and resolution of its financial concerns. Her unshakable faith and obedience to the Lord's guidance have allowed her to contribute tirelessly to the study, implementation, and institutionalization of much needed systemic changes of a 117-year old institution," read the statement.

Sereno added that Fabian applied for the position in August 2012.

Fabian is the head of the Technical Working Group (TWG) Special Committee on retirement and civil service benefits. The establishment of the TWG was criticized by both House justice committee members and resource speakers for causing inordinate delay in the granting of survivorship benefits to the spouses of deceased magistrates.

Impeachement complainant lawyer Larry Gadon went as far as accusing Fabian as being unqualified, noting that her only previous work was an accountant in a small department store.

Sereno's camp came into the defense of Fabian, highlighting her 29 years of experience in the private sector.

"Atty. Fabian is a welcome asset to the Office of the Chief Justice, not to mention the judiciary as a whole, considering the experience and expertise she brought to public service after 29 long years in the private sector," Sereno's camp said in a statement.

According to the statement, Fabian was formerly the Vice President, Operations Group Head and Acting Comptroller of Stateland, Inc. (2011-2013); the Director for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer of Far East Broadcasting Company (Philippines), Inc. (2000-2009); Vice President for Finance of JS Gaisano, Inc. (1982-1994), among others.

Fabian has been certified public accountant since 1985, and a lawyer since 2011.

Gadon, during Wednesday's impeachment hearing, also claimed that Sereno and Fabian knew each other because they belong to the same church.

Fabian categorically denied Gadon's allegation. She admitted knowing Sereno but she said she does not know her personally.

She also admitted that while they have the same faith as born-again Christians, they attend different churches.

Sereno's camp validated Fabian's claim, saying that "the Chief Justice and Atty' Fabian do not attend the same church."

Sereno's camp said Fabian applied for a position in the Office of Chief Justice through a letter dated August 25, 2012; she was interviewed on February 6, 2013 by three chiefs of the top magistrate's office.

There were two applicants for the Court Attorney vacancy at the time, and Fabian was found to be more qualified, the statement noted.

"After favorable recommendation of the interviewing panel, and a final interview at which the Chief Justice met Atty. Fabian for the first time, Atty. Fabian was appointed in May 2013," it said.

"The Chief Justice was not aware, until today, that Atty. Aldwin B. Salumbides was listed in Atty. Fabian's curriculum vitae as one of her references, the statement added.

Among the impeachment charges against Sereno is the delay in filling of key vacancies in the SC. Gadon alleged that the Chief Justice was intentionally delaying the appointments to await for members of her staff to qualify for the posts.

Source: Philippine News Agency