House panel finds sufficient grounds to impeach Sereno
by UNTV News | Posted on Thursday, October 5th, 2017
MANILA, Philippines – Voting 25-2, the House Committee on Justice found sufficiency of grounds for the impeachment complaint filed against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
This means the lawmakers saw impeachable offenses in the 27 allegations stated in the complaint.
Some of the 27 grounds stated in the impeachment complaint against Sereno include:
– alleged luxurious lifestyle -frequent travels abroad -mis-declaration of her real wealth in her statement of assets liabilities and net worth -purchase of high-end vehicles – and her alleged tampering of temporary restraining orders and resolutions of courts.
The lawyer of Sereno has expressed dismay over the result of the hearing on the impeachment rap.
“The committee should have answered today if these set of evidence have basis. That’s our expectation. But in the hearing, it was declared sufficient in form again,” CJ Sereno’s Lawyer, Atty. Jojo Lacaninao said.
In the next hearing set in November, the House committee will determine if the complaint has probable cause.
According to House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali, they will formally invite the justices of the Supreme Court who would like to testify against the chief magistrate.
However, the committee has yet to decide on the request of Sereno to allow her lawyer to confront the complainant and the witnesses during the November hearing.
“We will issue subpoena to those who will be necessary in terms of clarifying the allegations in the complaint,” Umali said.
Once the lawmakers see probable cause in the complaint, they will write articles of impeachment and put it to a vote in the plenary of Congress. Once it passes the plenary, it will be brought to the senate that would stand as the impeachment court to begin the formal trial. From there, CJ Sereno will be obliged to face the Senators who will stand as judges. – Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue
MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro described Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno in terms of handling cases.
“I believe that the actions done by the chief justice by the time that she assumed position showed no respect nor courtesy to the court en banc,” said De Castro.
During the continuation of the impeachment committee’s hearing, SC Associate Justice Neol Tijam confirmed that some of the allegations stated in the impeachment complaint filed against Chief Justice Sereno.
Tijam claimed that Sereno did not inform the Supreme Court en banc about the letter of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre requesting for the immediate transfer of the trial of the Maute-related cases to Metro Manila due to security issues.
The SC justice said that the members of the en banc learned of the contents of the letter at a very late date, which was why they released the decision on the matter two months after DOJ’s submission.
“On June 19, 2017, these are letters which we came to know after the fact this letter was never submitted by the chief justice to the en banc. There was a certain degree of mental dishonesty because it did not arise with a consultation or deliberation by the en banc since she called me and told me that the en banc has already decided,” said the associate justice.
Supreme Court Administrator Justice Midas Marquez said that he even wrote to CJ Sereno to fast-track the transferring of the case after the court officials of Cagayan de Oro refused to handle the charges due to fears that the rebel groups might take revenge.
However, Marquez claimed that the top magistrate disregarded his request.
“It is unfortunate the chief justice did not trust the court administrator of the Supreme Court. She did not hear the recommendation of the court administrator. She did not even inform us of such recommendation and even during lunch she did not summon the court administrator,” said Justice Tijam.
On the other hand, the camp of Sereno explained.
“Nung August 8 nagkaroon ng pagbabgo doon sa recommendation. Yung una kasi RTC level lang tapos dinagdagan nila ng MTC first level court kaya nagbago ang resolution August 8. On time po yun walang delay at hindi po namin malaman kung bakit may ganong kwestiyon wala naman motibo si Justice Sereno para i-delay yun,” said Atty. Jojo Lacaninao, spokesperson of the chief justice.
(On August 8, there had been changes in the recommendation. In the first one, they requested on the RTC level, then they made it first level court. This is why the resolution on August 8 was changed. That was done on time. We could not determine why there were such questions when CJ Sereno has no motive to delay the transfer of the case.)
The impeachment committee also discovered that the CJ Sereno unilaterally decided to handle the Maute-related case, which also did not go through a raffle.
“There is nothing in the rules that allow her to designate herself as a member in charge even if an administrative matter judicial case, admin case,” said De Castro.
The SC justices present during the hearing also confirmed that Sereno did not inform the SC en banc about the issue on the benefits of the retired justices and judges in the country.
Sereno allegedly let the matter remain unresolved for two years by the special committee and technical working group she herself formed.
The en banc is not slow in acting on such matters. All you have to do is to bring it to the attention of the en banc and we will take action on that,” said Justice Tijam.
For the said issue to be clarified, Justice Tijam calls on to CJ Sereno.
“I encourage the chief justice to attend so that she can explain why she dilly-dallied and decided not to bring it to the attention of the en banc,” said the associate justice.
Meanwhile, former colleagues of the chief justice could not help to express their concerns.
“Eh sasabihin ko sa kanya, ‘Wala naman ganyanan. You are getting what you want through this devious means that is not right since you the leader,’ ” said retired Associate Justice Arturo Brion.
(I will say to her, “Let’s have none of that . You are getting what you want through this devious means that is not right since you the leader.)
“Limang taon na po paulit-ulit na akong nagsasabi sa kanya, ‘huwag mong gawin yan, hindi mo yan puwede gawin,’ hindi pa rin siya tumitigil sa pag labag niya doon sa mga dapat sana ay pinaalam niya sa en banc at dinidisyunan namin sama-sama during our en banc session. Hanggang kailan kami magtitiis?” said Justice De Castro.
(I’ve been telling her for five years, ‘don’t do that, you can’t do that,’ but she continues to defy rules that she should inform the en banc of matters we have to decide on together during our en banc session. Until when do we have to suffer?)
The impeachment committee will temporarily end the hearing and will continue when its session reopens in January 2018. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue
MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has decided to no longer participate in the impeachment proceedings in the Lower House of Congress.
This, after the House Committee on Justice prohibited them to represent the chief magistrate during a hearing on the complaint.
In a statement, Sereno’s spokesperson, Atty. Josa Deinla said that they prefer the process to reach the Senate, noting that based on the hearing conducted last Wednesday, the committee already decided on the complaint in advance.
Deinla said they are hoping that in the Senate, the chief justice will face a fair trial where she could defend herself.
House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali expressed dismay over the statement of Sereno’s camp.
Umali said, as a lawyer they should respect the mandate of the Congress in conducting impeachment hearings.
“Ngayon kung sinasabi na nila na pre-judged na sila (If they are saying they have been pre-judged), it is so unfortunate that they will think that way,” he said.
“They should also look at their codes of offices na sila ay sinasabing dapat sundin nila ang kanilang sinumpaang tungkulin na sila ay susunod sa Konstitusyon and this is a constitutional duty that we are performing hinihingi na kanilang respetuhin po ito (They should also look at their codes of offices that say they should comply with their sworn duties and follow the Constitution. This is a constitutional duty that we are performing. We are asking them to respect it.) ,” Umali added.
He also said it is wrong for the lawyer of Sereno to release such a statement while the hearing is ongoing.
What they said is not good. They should have thought about their statements properly,” said the chairman.
The lawmaker has confirmed they are also looking into the option of issuing a subpoena to CJ Sereno to oblige her to answer personally all the allegations against her.
“Kahapon po nag meeting kami at mayroong mga ganyang mga usapin na lumabas sa usapan pero pag-aaralan nating maigi yan kung ano ang nararapat (We had a meeting yesterday, and there were such discussions. But we will still have to study what is appropriate),” said Umali. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue
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