House justice committee bars Sereno’s lawyers to cross-examine witnesses
The House justice committee approved the motion to deny Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s lawyers to cross-examine the witnesses present at the panel’s hearing on Wednesday to determine her impeachment case’s probable cause.
Voting 30-4, the justice panel said only members of the committee would be allowed to cross-examine witnesses and participate in the proceedings.
Siquijor Lone District Rep. Ramon Rocamora supported the move to allow Sereno’s lawyers to cross-examine witnesses and complainant.
“If we’re really interested in expediting these proceedings… In my experience, I allow the lawyers to respond directly, to save time,” he said.
But SAGIP partly-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta opposed him, saying: “Sila po ba’y mas magaling mag-cross-examine kesa sa Chief Justice mismo?”
“Unless she’s willing to issue an affidavit she’s incompetent to cross-examine herself. Considering she’s the Chief Justice… I cannot imagine she’s incompetent to cross-examine witnesses,” he added.
House justice committee chair Rep. Reynaldo Umali, however, clarified that Sereno’s counsels could still raise concerns through him or any members of the panel.
“We are not depriving the respondents of their right to cross examine, they can raise their concerns through members of the panel,” Umali said.
“We are not depriving anyone of their right,” he added.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust.
The House justice committee has deemed the impeachment complaint against Sereno sufficient in form, substance, and grounds; and scheduled the hearing to determine its probable cause this Wednesday. /kga
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