Sereno camp decries House panel vote vs cross-examination of complainant, witnesses by counsels
The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno denounced the decision of the House justice committee to prevent her lawyers from cross-examining the complainant and witnesses during the impeachment hearings.
Lawyers of Sereno decided to leave the hearing after the committee voted 30-4, allowing only lawmaker members to question the complainant and witnesses.
The House panel, however, allowed Sereno’s counsels to raise their concerns only through committee chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali and any members of the justice committee.
“The Committee decision to prohibit the lawyers of the Chief Justice from attending the hearing is tantamount to barring CJ Sereno herself, and belies their claim of an open and democratic process that honors the right to a fair trial,” the lawyers said in an e-mailed statement.
The lawyers said it was “deplorable that we should have to resort to rebuttal by email just to ensure that our side is heard.”
“It is apparent that the pursuit of truth has been put aside in favor of biased political interest. The Chief Justice maintains that she is innocent of the charges against her,” they said.
Lawyer Alex Poblador said they decided to skip the hearings because they could not “meaningfully participate anyway.”
Another lawyer Dino Tamayo also protested the committee decision, stressing that their presence in their client’s impeachment hearings was essential as it is a “procedure which can result in prejudice to her.”
“Wala kaming hinihinging special favor. Sa rules nila mayroon ito so why deprive the Chief Justice of that right at saan ka nakakita ng cross examination na walang lawyer. In all proceedings, present ang abogado except in aid of legislation, but this is not in aid of legislation,” Tamayo said. /kga
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