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House justice committee postpones voting on articles of impeachment

by UNTV   |   Posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the prosecution team are in disagreement on certain matters concerning what to include in the articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

For this reason, the House Committee on Justice has decided to postpone the voting supposedly set tomorrow to Monday or Tuesday next week.

“Ang gusto ng iba ay comprehensive talaga to show that this is a very strong case and I believe so too,” said impeachment committee chairman, Representative Reynaldo Umali.

(Others want it to be really comprehensive to show that this is a very strong case, and I believe so too.)

According to Umali only issues on Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), tax evasion and Sereno’s purchase of luxury car, are the items sure to be included in the articles of impeachment.

But according to the House minority group, the postponement just shows that the panel has no strong evidence against Sereno.

“From the very start, the complaint filed by Gadon was weak,” said Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.

Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin noted, “In the impeachment trial, they are not sure if they can defend the 27 cases being charged against the chief justice.”

Meanwhile, the committee is considering to include CIBAC party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, Pangasinan Rep. Marlin Agabas, and Atty. Biboy Malaya in the prosecution team against Sereno as they were among the members of the prosecution team during the Corona impeachment trial.

Also, the defense lawyers of the late former Chief Justice Corona voluntarily offered their free services to the prosecution team.

Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who was the presiding judge in the Corona Senate impeachment trial, is also part of the team.

“Ang criteria namin kailangan lawyer, kailangan litigator at preferably may experience in the past impeachment trial,” said Umali.

(Our criteria require members to be lawyers, litigators and preferably have experience in the past impeachment trial.)

— Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue


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CJ Sereno asks SC to dismiss quo warranto petition

by UNTV   |   Posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on Monday filed her comment asking the Supreme Court (SC) for an outright dismissal of the quo warranto petition filed by the solicitor general.

The petition is intended to unseat her because her appointment as chief justice is allegedly void from the beginning.

In a comment filed by her lawyers on Monday,  Sereno said that the SC has no authority to remove her from office since the Constitution and court decisions dictate that the only means to oust her is by way of impeachment.

“Members of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice herself, may only be removed only by impeachment. Impeachment, on the other hand, is within the sole province of Congress and not the Supreme Court,” said Atty. Justin Mendoza, Sereno’s co-counsel.

She argued that if the SC would grant the petition, it will preempt the impeachment process which is equivalent to overthrowing the country’s Constitution.

“The Chief Justice looks forward to her day in court before the Senate, sitting as an impeachment tribunal, where she will be able to present her side, present her witnesses and evidence,” said Mendoza.

Sereno said that the quo warranto petition was filed out of time as stated in the rules of court.

She further said that it is the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) which determines if she passed the integrity requirement.

The solicitor general filed the petition believing Sereno lacks the integrity to sit as the country’s top magistrate for not complying with the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) requirement.

But Sereno noted, the JBC waived the submission of SALNs not only in her favor but for 13 other candidates as well. — Roderic Mendoza | UNTV News & Rescue



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Duterte, not bullying Sereno – Malacañang

by UNTV   |   Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said President Duterte is not bullying Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The official also said that it is Sereno herself who alienated her colleagues in the highest court and they wanted her out of the position.

“Hindi na po siya kinakailangang i-bully ng presidente. She has done a magnificent job of alienating her colleagues at mga colleagues niya mismo ang nagsasabi na hindi siya karapat-dapat diyan. Hindi po ang presidente,” said Roque.

(She needs no bullying from the president. She has done a magnificent job of alienating her colleagues and her colleagues themselves say she does not deserve her position — not the president.)

President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned recently that he had no hand in the filing of complaints against Sereno.

He also let Congress do its work on the impeachment proceedings against the chief justice.

Meanwhile, Roque revealed that even those who are in the lower courts are appealing for the resignation of the chief magistrate.

“Siya ang hepeng mahistrado and yet ni isang mahistrado walang kumampi sa kaniya at ang pagkakaalam ko pati yung mga judges ng lower courts, mananawagan na siya’y bumaba sa pwesto,” said the presidential spokesperson.

(She is the chief justice and yet not even one justice sided with her. And I know even the judges in the lower courts are appealing for her resignation.)

Congress has started drafting the articles of impeachment after establishing probable cause on the impeachment complaint filed before the House justice committee against Sereno. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue


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House panel finds probable cause to impeach CJ Sereno

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

FILE PHOTO: Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines — Voting 38-2 the House impeachment committee has found probable cause to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

After voting, the committee will form a technical working body to write the articles of impeachment

This is the first time that an impeachment complaint filed in the Lower House has gone through a committee hearing.

House Justice Committee chair Reynaldo Umali believes that after conducting 15 hearings they were able to gather strong evidence against the chief magistrate.

“All are strong evidence like the SALN, the tax, and the violation of collegiality of the SC,” he said.

But Dinagat Island Representative Kaka Bag-Ao who voted no in the committee disagrees with Umali, saying, “They failed to prove that there are impeachable offences. SALN? They did not even prove that she failed to submit her SALN, they don’t have evidence.”

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas said he does not want to repeat the embarrassment they have experienced during the Corona impeachment trial. It can be recalled that Fariñas was a member of the prosecution team then.

“Pag dating doon para kaming nangangapa-ngapa doon. Napagsasabihan, napagtatawanan (We were struggling at the Senate trial. We were told off and laughed at),” he said.

This is why, he said, they will now carefully choose the best grounds in the complaint that will be included in the articles of impeachment to be submitted to the Senate impeachment court.

On March 14 the committee is set to put a vote on the articles of impeachment before submitting it to the plenary.

It will only take one-third or 98 votes from the plenary before the articles of impeachment can be submitted to the Senate impeachment court for trial. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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