House panel finds sufficient grounds to impeach Sereno
(Updated 11:18 a.m., Oct. 5) A House panel on Thursday found sufficient grounds to hear the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, paving the way for the case to proceed to the next stage.
Voting 25-2, the House committee on justice, chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, said the panel would proceed to determine probable cause to impeach the Chief Justice.
“With 25 votes in favor and two against the motion of Rep. [Henry] Oaminal is carried and approved,” Umali said.
The panel found that the complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon satisfied the sufficiency in grounds requirement under the House impeachment rules.
“So the chair hereby declares the complaint sufficient in… There is sufficient ground to impeach… That the complaint alleges sufficient ground for impeachment and we will now move to the next stage, which is the determination of probable cause,” he added.
Dinagat Island Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-Ao earlier moved to object to Oaminal’s motion to vote on the sufficiency of the impeachment complaint, but was denied. She argued that most of the points raised by complainant, lawyer Larry Gadon, were insubstantial and not really impeachable offenses.
“Marami pong allegation si Atty. Gadon na naghihintay lang ng ebidensya. In fact sinabi niya mismo sa kanyang reply na these are all evidentiary and will be established later,” Bag-ao said.
Gadon alleged in his complaint that Sereno failed to disclose her real net worth, bought a luxury car using public funds, and pressured judges to defy the Duterte administration.
Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte also raised a number of points against the Gadon complaint, arguing it failed to establish his allegations, including one charge that Sereno had falsified a temporary restraining order.
The next stage is the determination of probable cause, referring to reasonable suspicion that the respondent may be guilty of the charges. If probable cause is determined, the articles of impeachment derived from the impeachment grounds shall be sent to plenary for approval.
A vote of one-third of the 293 members of the House sends the impeachment articles to the Senate, whose members will serve as judges in a public trial. /jpv
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