‘Writing is already on the wall’ for Sereno, says impeachment panel head
The “writing is already on the wall” for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Rep. Reynaldo Umali, House justice committee chair, said even as the impeachment proceedings would still continue this Monday.
In an interview with radio station dzBB on Sunday, Umali said the committee hearings on the determination of probable cause to impeach Sereno and try her before the Senate would “perhaps” be a matter of formality at this point.
“The Speaker [Pantaleon Alvarez] had spoken already, and you know the supermajority,” Umali said.
He recalled that the justice committee dismissed the impeachment complaint against now-resigned Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista. but the decision was overturned at the plenary in October.
But, he said the House committee would still have to continue its hearings and invite more people to testify to shore up the case for prosecution before the Senate acting as the impeachment court.
“The writing is already on the wall,” Umali said. “We are just strengthening what we have to finish in making the articles of impeachment.”
Addressing criticism that the allegations against Sereno were not impeachable offenses, Umali said these should not be looked at “piecemeal.”
“You also have to look at it holistically, the pattern or established pattern,” he said. “That’s what we have to be clear on. So, we’re continuing the hearing.”
Three of Sereno’s colleagues are scheduled to appear this Monday: Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta and Samuel Martires.
In his complaint, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon accused Sereno of falsifying various Supreme Court resolutions, delaying action on the petitions for the benefits of retired judges or the spouses of deceased judges, manipulating the nomination of justices, embellishing her credentials, failing to truthfully disclose her wealth, and using public funds on a luxury vehicle and extravagant accommodations.
He also accused Sereno of obstructing justice by ordering Muntinlupa City judges not to issue an arrest warrant against Sen. Leila de Lima, hiring an information technology consultant without public bidding, appointing key officials without the full court’s approval, and criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte for linking judges to the illegal drug trade and declaring martial law in Mindanao. /atm
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