Sereno formally asks House: Let me grill resource persons
If a letter didn’t suffice, then here’s a formal motion.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno gave congressmen what they required if she wanted her lawyers to cross-examine resource persons at her impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.
Sereno’s lawyers on Monday filed a motion asking the House justice committee to allow her to have her own lawyer who will cross-examine resource persons at the impeachment proceedings.
The committee had earlier declined to rule on her requests to cross-examine them herself or by her own lawyer because these were contained in letters dated Sept. 28 and Oct. 3, and not in the form of “motions.”
The motion also asked lawmakers to “confirm that the Chief Justice’s right through counsel to object to improper questions during the direct examination of complainant’s witnesses will be recognized.”
It also asked that Sereno be provided with “any evidence, testimonial, documentary, or object, which has been (or may be) submitted to the honorable committee in support of the charges against her,” as provided in the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
The House justice committee found the impeachment complaint filed by Larry Gadon to be sufficient in form and substance.
Gadon accused Sereno of betrayal of public trust, corruption, and failing to be truthful in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
If at least one-third of all members of the House vote in favor of Sereno’s impeachment, the articles of impeachment will be forwarded to the Senate, which will conduct the impeachment trial.
Two-thirds vote of all the senators (16 of 24) are required to convict Sereno and remove her from office.
In a statement, Sereno’s lawyers described as “alarming” the statement of the justice committee chair, Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, that the panel would not allow Sereno’s lawyers to cross-examine the resource persons purportedly because the House rules did not allow it and that it would be the congressmen who would do the cross-examination.
“Indeed, it makes little sense to recognize the right to cross-examine and limit the exercise of such right to the person of the respondent alone,” Sereno’s lawyers said in an Oct. 3 letter to the committee.
Sereno’s spokesperson, lawyer Josa Deinla, told reporters that asking the committee to allow the Chief Justice to choose her own lawyer, who would cross-examine resource persons at the impeachment hearing was part of the due process.
“Not one citizen can be denied the due process of law in the country because this is emphasized in our Constitution,” she said.
Deinla twitted Gadon for acting “more and more like a troll” for making “sensational” pronouncements against Sereno and about the impeachment proceedings.
Duterte as prosecutor
This includes Gadon’s suggestion that President Duterte be allowed as “special prosecutor” in the impeachment proceedings.
He was also reported to have said over the weekend that the impeachment complaint he had filed against Sereno was to remove the “yellow virus” from government, referring to appointees of former President Benigno Aquino III.
For his part, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez dismissed allegations of a group called Filipino Alliance for Transparency and Empowerment that the impeachment case against Sereno would be railroaded.
The group claimed over the weekend that Alvarez allegedly wanted to get back at Sereno over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 case against Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc., which the government won.
Alvarez was the transportation secretary and a ranking official of the airport authority throughout the case.
In a statement released by the House, Alvarez said the allegation “betrays the weakness of Sereno’s evidence in her defense.”