MANILA – Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has written the House Justice committee in reply to an invitation for him to appear at a hearing on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, but stopped short of making a commitment to oblige the lawmakers.
In his letter addressed to Justice committee chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Carpio did not confirm if he will attend the first hearing for 2018 set soon after Congress returns in mid-January from its Christmas break. However, Carpio asked Umali for clarification on what topics will be covered by the questions to be propounded to him by the panel members if and when he appears.
The Justice panel held its last hearing for the year on Monday (Dec. 11), at which three associate justices and a retired magistrate were among the resource persons who attended: Justices Noel Tijam, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Francis Jardeleza and retired Justice Arturo Brion.
The hearings, intended to help the House panel determine whether is probable cause to bring the impeachment case to plenary for voting on whether it should go to trial at the Senate, became somewhat heated in the last two sessions, when Justice de Castro and later, the three other magistrates, testified.
At the Dec. 11 hearing, Jardeleza practically accused Sereno of treason for “illegally” obtaining documents pertaining to the Itu Aba rock formation, which was pertinent to the Philippines’ case against China before an international tribunal–a case where Jardeleza first played a key role when he was still solicitor general. Jardeleza said Sereno used such illegally obtained documents in a bid to block his nomination as associate justice of the Supreme Court.