Inviting magistrates in House proceedings an attack to SC independence—solon
The possibility that the House committee on justice would summon a Supreme Court (SC) associate justice to prove claims that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno falsified documents in 2013 is “absurd” and an “attack to the SC’s independence,” an opposition solon said on Wednesday.
During the House panel hearing on Sereno’s impeachment, lawyer-complainant Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon claimed that newspaper reporter Jomar Canlas confirmed Sereno’s alleged tampering of a temporary restraining order (TRO) recommended by SC Associate Justice Teresita De Castro.
The alleged falsification of TRO is one of Gadon’s grounds in accusing Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution. Apart from this, he is also accusing the chief magistrate of corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.
Following this, the panel said they may subpoena Canlas and De Castro to clarify the issue.
Dinagat Islands Lone District Rep. Kaka Bag-ao lamented this as she saw the move as an attack to the high court’s independence and internal processes.
“Kaya gusto ko ipakita ang absurdity ng buong prosesong ito, lahat ng pinaguusapan mula kanina ay internal processes ng SC, isang bagay na dapat dependently nireresolve nila at hindi pinakikialaman ng kongreso,” Bag-ao told reporters.
(That is why I want to show the absurdity of this entire process, all of the topics discussed since we started are internal processes of SC, a thing that dependently being resolved by SC and Congress.)
“Ang implikasyon ng pag-imbita ay maaring pag-imbita ng iba pang justices at therefore, pagpasok na sa kanilang proseso, independence at pagiging co-equal bodies ng Congress sa SC,” she added.
(The implication of inviting the other justices is the intrusion into the SC processes, their independence and being co-equal bodies with Congress and SC.)
Reacting to Gadon’s allegations against Sereno, the camp of the chief justice said that the disclosure of De Castro being the source of the information is a violation of the internal rules of the SC.
“Atty. Gadon’s disclosure that his source of information for Supreme Court Internal Memorandum is no other than Senior Justice Teresita De Castro, if indeed true, reveals that Senior Justice De Castro clearly violated the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court. The Internal Rules of the Supreme Court prominently safeguards the confidentiality of Supreme Court sessions and its internal documents,” Atty. Josa Deinla, spokesperson of Sereno, said in a statement.
“Specifically, the Supreme Court sessions are executive in character, with only the Members of the Supreme Court present. The Supreme Court deliberations are confidential and shall not be disclosed to outside parties, except if authorized by the Supreme Court,” she added.
Deinla further pointed out that the SC “rollos” or court records may only be released upon an official written request from the Judicial Staff Head or the Chief of Office of the requesting office.
“All persons handling the ‘rollos’ are bound by the same strict confidentiality rules,” she said. /jpv
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