MANILA — The camp of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on Monday reiterated that the top magistrate has been participating in the impeachment process by filing her response to the complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon.
Lawyer Josa Deinla, one of Sereno’s spokespersons, took exception House justice committee chairman Reynaldo Umali’s repetitive claim that the Chief Justice did not want to participate in the impeachment proceedings that begun last November.
She said Sereno has answered the charges in her verified answer.
“We wish to reiterate that the Chief Justice has accepted the invitation of the committee to attend the hearings through her counsel, which is her right under justice panel’s own rules and the Constitution, but the committee did not allow her to be represented by her counsels of choice and to cross examine the complaint and the witnesses through her lawyers,” Deinla said in statement.
“While the Chief Justice respected the process, the Committee did not follow its own rules and deprived her of her constitutional rights,” she added.
Deila said the ongoing impeachment proceedings of the House Committee on Justice is a mere fishing expedition to boost the “baseless and malicious allegations” of Gadon.
“Chairman Umali has publicly announced that the Chief Justice’s impeachment is already a done deal. He publicly stated that the impeachment process is just a matter of formality because the Chief Justice is expected to be ousted amid the strong belief of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that the issues raised against her stand on strong and solid ground,” said Deinla.
According to Deinla, it was puzzling that both Alvarez and Umali are claiming that there is a strong ground to remove the top magistrate from office while still continuing with the committee’s fishing expedition to boost the baseless and malicious allegations of Gadon.
“Why will the CJ attend the hearing when Umali has said that it’ a mere formality because Speaker Alvarez wanted her impeached and they will impeach her,” she asked.
“In view of this, the impeachment proceedings will be nothing but a charade and that the House Committee on Justice will just be resorting to a vilification campaign and fishing expedition to cover up for a fatally defective complaint against the Chief Justice,” Deinla said.
“Dapat pagbotohan na ito ng Kongreso at iakyat na sa Senado kung saan kami ay umaasa na magkakaroon ng patas na paglilitis at rerespetuhin ang mga karapatan ni Chief Justice na naaayon sa Konstitusyon (Congress should already vote on this and elevate the case to the Senate where we are optimistic that the Chief Justice would be accorded fair trial and her rights would be respected),” she noted.
Until now, Deinla lamented, the hearings have not produced any solid evidence and sufficient grounds to impeach the Chief Justice.
She cited for instance Monday’s hearing when testimonies of witnesses failed to prove the liability of Sereno in the delayed survivorship benefits for widows of deceased justices and judges.
“Throughout the discussion, there was no evidence or indication that the Chief Justice tried to control or influence the Technical Working Group’s work in any way. The fact is she did not need to interfere because all of the TWG’s recommendations would have to be taken up by the Supreme Court,” Deinla noted.
“It covered actions by the Technical Working Group that evaluates cases and merely recommends decisions to the Supreme Court en banc. Throughout the discussion, there was no evidence or indication that the Chief Justice tried to control or influence the TWG work in any way. The fact is she did not need to interfere because all of the TWG’s recommendations would have to be taken up by the Supreme Court en banc,” she added. (PNA) By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan