MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno shrugged off the alleged “psywar campaign” being used to condition the minds of the public by camps seeking to oust the top magistrate from power.
Lawyer Aldwin “Winnie” Salumbides, one of Sereno’s spokespersons, dismissed the statements made inside and outside the hearings of the House Committee on Justice as nothing but pure hearsay, personal opinions, innuendos and optics to persuade the public into thinking that there’s basis to remove Sereno from office based on a complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon.
Salumbides made the statement in response to the possible attendance of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio at the resumption of impeachment proceedings against the chief justice next month.
A news report, however, said that Carpio, one of those who opposed the appointment of former solicitor general Francis Jardeleza to the high court as associate justice in connection with the Itu Aba issue, had yet to make a decision and wrote the House panel to clarify the scope of issues upon which his testimony is sought.
“Everyday they float new names and personalities of those who are supposed to testify against the Chief Justice. People can only conclude that this is all part of the propaganda to make it appear that Chief Justice Sereno is losing support among her colleagues in the Supreme Court,” said Salumbides.
Three of the 15-member tribunal — associate justices Jardeleza, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Noel Tijam — had testified in the House committee regarding Sereno’s supposed high-handedness in dealing with administrative matters at the Supreme Court.
Salumbides, however, said their testimonies were “personal and administrative matters that have been threshed out by the Supreme Court en banc, as these primarily pertained to its own internal rules.”
“We go back to the crucial question: are those really impeachable offenses? Definitely they are not,” he added, as Salumbides urged the House panel to expedite its proceedings and transmit the appropriate articles to the Senate, which will sit as an impeachment court to ascertain whether there is basis to remove Sereno from office.
“If some members of the panel feel there’s overwhelming evidence against the Chief Justice, they should simply elevate the proceedings to the Senate. There is no good reason to delay,” said Salumbides.
“But as it appears, the committee still wants to continue gathering evidence or build up Gadon’s case as some members probably know that the allegations are baseless and will not prosper,” he added.