Sereno impeachment hearings to start on Wednesday
The House of Representatives Committee on Justice will tackle the impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday.
In an interview with AM radio station DZBB on Sunday, committee chair Rep. Reynaldo Umali said he was being true to his word that he would begin the hearings in just a week once the complaints had been referred to his committee by the plenary.
Meanwhile, the impeachment complaint filed against Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautist was set for the next week.
Hearings on the complaints against the two officials, he said, would be held alternately every week.
Umali also said the committee would “most likely not” exhaust all the 60 days to tackle the complaints before crafting a resolution.
“I don’t want to procrastinate. I don’t want to prolong the agony,” Umali said. “I try to resolve issues before me because I have other things to do which are equally important, except that this is a constitutional mandate. So we have to give priority to it. We will finish this right away.”
He siad that at a glance he could “see the hand of… the Court itself,” especially in the complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, as some of the allegations were “clearly coming from the inside” of the usually secretive branch of government.
“This will not augur well for the Supreme Court because, you know, they are independent in their own judgment, nbut the leadership must be whole,” Umali said.
“At the outset, I can say the leadership of the third branch of government is quite shaky, isn’t it?” he added. “And you know, when you determine the fitness of, ah, the respondent to continue holding office, that will also matter.”
Gadon’s verified complaint was endorsed on Aug. 30 by 25 lawmakers, led by Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia, Ferdinand Hernandez, Frederick Abueg, and Mylene Garcia-Albano.
The lawyer accused Sereno of manipulating judicial appointments as concurrent chair of the Judicial and Bar Council.
He cited a decision penned by Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, an opinion written by Associate Justice Arturo Brion, and even a speech where Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza recalled his “near-death experience” because Sereno was trying to block his appointment.
Dante Jimenez, founding chair of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, and Eligio Mallari, president of Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, also filed a complaint endorsed on Sept. 4 by 16 lawmakers, led by Deputy Speakers Fredenil Castro and Sharon Garin.
As for Bautista, former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras’s complaint was endorsed on Aug. 23 by three lawmakers, including Garcia. /atm