MANILA, Philippines — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman belittled the testimony of Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro during Wednesday’s hearing of the House Committee on Justice, saying this did not prove that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had committed an impeachable offense.
Lagman said De Castro only “made a mountain out of a molehill” with her narration before the proceedings.
De Castro confirmed that she had protested Sereno’s alleged misrepresentation of the November 27, 2012 resolution of the en banc on the creation of the Regional Court Administrator’s Office in Region 7.
The issue was one of the 27 allegedly impeachable acts raised by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon in the complaint he filed against Sereno.
“Granting that the alleged deficiencies of the Chief Justice are true, the same do not constitute any impeachable offense like culpable violation of the Constitution which must be deliberate and serious,” said Lagman.
“With respect to de Castro’s accusation that Sereno departed from the en banc resolution of the Supreme Court with respect to the alleged ‘creation’ of a Judiciary Decentralization Office in the 7th Judicial Region, she was merely relying on her uncorroborated recollection against the official notes of the Chief Justice documenting the proceedings in the executive session of the high court,” he said.
“The JDO, like the Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO), is consistent with the Supreme Court antecedent resolutions to decentralize the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to supervise inferior courts,” the veteran lawmaker added.
As to the charge that the Chief Justice in the Senior Citizens Party-list case issued a TRO that was not consistent with the draft submitted by De Castro as the justice-in-charge during the recess of the court en banc, the internal rules of the Supreme Court authorize the chief magistarte to issue TROs when the court en banc is in recess, said Lagman.
“A draft is not cast in stone so much so that it can be modified by the Chief Justice who is not a rubber stamp.”
The committee scheduled the resumption of the hearing on December 5.