MANILA – She may have snubbed hearings thus far conducted by the House Justice committee on the impeachment complaint against her, but on Friday, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno found herself in the same room as the panel chair, Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
Umali, who has repeatedly appealed to Sereno to face the House panel constitutionally mandated to determine if there’s probable cause in the complaint, was also a guest at the 30th anniversary of the Judicial and Bar Council at the PICC.
The JBC was set up as part of the democratic rebuilding after the 1986 EDSA Revolt, and was meant to insulate from politics the task of selecting nominees for key positions in the judiciary.
Finding himself with Sereno at the JBC event, Rep. Umali gave the Chief Justice a quick buss; she smiled, but did not look at him. She also did not say a word to him throughout the rites.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte, listed as the guest speaker, sent word he would not be attending the JBC anniversary, and would instead send Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Sereno sat at one table with former chief justices Hilario Davide Jr. and Artemio Panganiban, as well as retired Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez.
Gutierrez’s seat in the JBC has been taken over by retired Associate Justice Jose Mendoza, a fraternity brother of Duterte.
Mendoza was present at the JBC event. Seated with him on the same table were Representative Umali, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, and incumbent SC associate justices Presbitero Velasco, Samuel Martires and Andres Reyes Jr.