Sereno camp: Gadon on a fishing expedition
Lawyer-complainant Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon himself has conceded that some of his allegations may not be impeachable offenses.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno took note of this in a rejoinder she filed on Monday afternoon.
According to Sereno’s rejoinder filed at the House of Representatives’ committee on justice, Gadon cited the following as unimpeachable offenses:
-the accusations of misdeclared Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN),
-illegal acquisition of the Toyota Land Cruiser, business class travels,
-shortlists for the six vacancies in the Sandiganbayan, and
-her mental and psychological evaluation results
Sereno’s camp also underscored that in Gadon’s reply, he said that his allegations “will be verified later” at “evidentiary hearings.”
“Dito taliwas sa House rules ang interpretasyon ni Gadon sa pagdinig sa House committee on justice dahil bago ka pumunta sa ganoong klaseng pagdinig dapat mayroon ka nang ebidensya, hindi ‘yung pupunta ka dun saka ka palang maghahalungkat ng ebidensya. Kung kaya iginigiit uli ni Chief Justice na karapat-dapat nang i-basura yung impeachment complaint laban sa kanya,” Atty. Josa Deinla, Sereno’s spokesperson told reporters.
The rejoinder also pointed out that “public funds should not finance a proceeding where the complainant swears his case is based on ‘personal knowledge’ and ‘authentic records,’ but then cites news reports and expresses the need to ‘verify’ his facts ‘later.'”
‘Sereno’s right to cross-examine’
Asked about Rep. Reynaldo Umali’s statement that Sereno’s legal team should not be allowed to cross-examine the resource speakers at the hearing, Sereno’s legal counsel said they are “hopeful” the committee on justice will follow their own rules.
“As of now we are confident that we have legal basis in the House rules to cross-examine the witnesses. So we are hopeful that the House committee on justice will follow their own rules. Now, if in the event that those rights are denied, then we will certainly avail of the remedies that are available to us and we will discuss the same with the chief justice,” Atty. Justine Mendoza said.
‘A fishing expedition’
Deinla, meanwhile, downplayed Gadon’s impeachment as a mere “fishing expedition.”
“Si complainant really intends to engage in fishing expedition at sa aming palagay hindi dapat pinapayagan yung ganitong klaseng pagtrato sa mga pagdinig sa House committee, dahil tandaan natin na gagamitin dyan yung pondo ng taong-bayan, galing ‘yan sa buwis ng mamamayan at sila, may karapatan sa katotohanan. Kaya hindi dapat ganon na babaliin, babaluktutin yung mismong rules ng committee on justice,” Deinla said.
“While clearly intended as a smokescreen to hide the weakness of his case, complainant’s side comments only served to highlight one crucial fact- the complainant does not have ‘sufficient grounds for impeachment’ against the Chief Justice,” the rejoinder read.
Reacting to Sereno’s rejoinder, Gadon challenged her to sign a waiver and disclose her bank accounts.
“I challenge CJ Sereno to issue an unequivocal, straightforward waiver to all banks to fully disclose her bank accounts including all transactions, entries of deposits and withdrawals, dates of entries and transactions, and current balances,” Gadon said in a statement.
“The general waiver stated in the SALN giving authority to the opening of financial records does not cover all bank accounts. Waiver on bank accounts should be specific,” he added.
In a hearing last September 13, the House justice committee ruled Gadon’s impeachment complaint against Sereno sufficient in form and substance.
In his complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of corruption, failing to truthfully disclose her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), and betraying public trust, among others.
The chief justice has sought the dismissal of the lawyer’s complaint in a verified answer that she filed last September 26. She disputed these allegations as “utterly false” and “guesswork based on newspaper reports and hearsay sources.”
Gadon, in return, downplayed Sereno’s reply as a “litany of lamentable lies and lame logic crafted to escape her impeachment and eventual removal from office” as it is covered with “legal niceties.”
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