House resumes Sereno impeachment hearing sans majority of witnesses

SHARE
Philstar file photo of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on Justice on Monday resumed hearings on the impeachment complaint against the chief justice without majority of the resource persons, including the two magistrates invited to testify on several impeachable acts allegedly committed by Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The attendance to the hearing of Supreme Court associate justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Noel Tijam, and lawyer Theodore Te, the high court’s chief public information officer, would still be determined by the full court. The 15 SC justices, sitting en banc, will meet on Tuesday, November 28.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali, chairperson of the committee, also called for an executive session to discuss how to deal with the absence of the invited resource persons.

“We will call for an executive session to deal with the request of many witnesses or invited guests, who seek a deferment of their appearance in today’s hearings because they clarified they needed the authorization from the Supreme Court en banc because of a prior internal policy and rule of the SC,” he said.

“The chair manifested that we will respect this internal rule as we call on them to also respect the impeachment rules of the committee,” Umali added.

Siquijor Rep. Ramon “Rav” Rocamora and ABS party-list Rep. Eugene De Vera proposed that the committee also discuss during the executive session whether or not it would accept the pleadings submitted by Sereno if she does not attend the hearings.

De Castro was called in connection with the allegation made by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon that Sereno had committed culpable violation of the Constitution by allegedly tampering a temporary restraining order of the SC in G.R. No. 206844-45 (Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines v. COMELEC).

De Castro supposedly recommended the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and sent a draft to Sereno’s office, but the final version that came from the chief justice was said to be vastly different from the earlier version.

Tijam will be asked on allegation that Sereno had delayed the resolution in the transfer of the cases against the Maute local terror group outside of Mindanao.

Several SC personnel were also invited in the hearing. Manila Times reporter Jomar Canlas was present in the hearing. He was invited because he was the alleged source of the information on the TRO on the Senior Citizens case.

The committee is trying to determine whether there exists probable cause to impeach Sereno and bring the trial to the Senate.

In his complaint, Gadon alleged that Sereno had committed 27 impeachable acts that constitute culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption and other high crimes.

In a separate statement, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman reiterated that as respondent in the proceedings, Sereno has the following “inherent and constitutional rights.”

–To appear through counsel and have her lawyers cross-examine on her behalf the complainant and adverse witnesses (This was unwarrantedly denied by the Committee on Justice); and

–Not to personally appear at all. It is for the complainant Gadon to prove the allegations in his complaint, and not for the respondent Chief Justice to disprove the same considering that Gadon has not even proved anything and his chargers are utterly unfounded and based on hearsay.

Lagman also said the appearance of the Chief Justice “will not serve any legal purpose.”

“The projected issuance of a warrant of arrest against the Chief Justice has no legal anchorage. It is an empty and useless threat bordering on coercion and arbitrariness,” he also said.

BELOW IS THE LIST OF RESOURCE PERSONS INVITED BY THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE TO TESTIFY IN THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE MARIA LOURDES SERENO:

CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

1. Hon. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines
2. Hon. JOSE MIDAS P. MARQUEZ
Court Administrator, Supreme Court of the Philippines
3. Atty. FELIPA B. ANAMA
Clerk of Court, Supreme Court of the Philippines

TRO ON SENIOR CITIZEN’S PARTY LIST

1. Hon. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines

2. Atty. FELIPA B. ANAMA
Clerk of Court, Supreme Court of the Philippines

3. Mr. JOMAR CANLAS
Senior Reporter, The Manila Times

JUDGES INVOLVED IN ILLEGAL DRUGS
1. Atty. THEODORE TE
Chief- Public Information Office, Supreme Court of the Philippines

2. Atty. FELIPA B. ANAMA
Clerk of Court, Supreme Court of the Philippines

DELAY IN RETIREMENT BENEFITS OF JUDGES AND JUSTICES

1. Hon. JOSE MIDAS P. MARQUEZ
Court Administrator, Supreme Court of the Philippines

2. Atty. ANNA-LI R. PAPA-GOMBIO
Deputy Clerk of Court En Banc
Chairperson-Special Committee on Retirement and Civil Service Benefits
Supreme Court of the Philippines

3. Atty. JOCELYN T. FABIAN
Chairperson-Technical Working Group Special Committee on Retirement and Civil Service Benefits
Supreme Court of the Philippines

4. Ms. CHARLOTTE C. LABAYANI
Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Employees’ Welfare and Benefits Division
Office of Administrative Service – Office of the Court Administrator
Supreme Court of the Philippines

DELAY IN RESOLUTION OF TRANSFER OF MAUTE CASES

1. Hon. VITALIANO N. AGUIRRE II
Secretary, Department of Justice

2. Hon. NOEL G. TIJAM
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines

3. Atty. THEODORE TE
Chief- Public Information Office, Supreme Court of the Philippines

4. Atty. FELIPA B. ANAMA
Clerk of Court, Supreme Court of the Philippines

SALN

1. Hon. DANILO L. CONCEPCION
President and Concurrent Dean, University of the Philippine-College of Law

2. Commissioner CESAR R. DULAY
Bureau of Internal Revenue

MANIPULATING THE JBC SHORTLIST

1. Atty. ANNALIZA S. TY-CAPACITE
Executive Officer- Judicial and Bar Council Supreme Court of the Philippines

2. Hon. Justice ARTURO D. BRION (RET.)
Former Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines