Sereno lawyers demand fair treatment from lawmakers
Two lawyers representing Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the impeachment complaint being discussed before the House committee on justice said they remain “somehow optimistic” that she would receive fair treatment among senators, if and once her case is brought to the Senate.
Lawyers Joshua Santiago and Aldwin Salumbides, who also serve as the high magistrate’s spokespersons, expressed hope in a press briefing on Saturday that justice will be evident before the Senate.
“Do we expect fair treatment in the Senate? We do not expect fair treatment. We demand fair treatment—not just for the Chief Justice, but for any Filipino citizen who will be facing charges like this,” Salumbides said.
He added, however, that the lawmakers’ type of treatment on Sereno and her case remains to be seen.
“We have reasons to be somehow optimistic that in the Senate, knowing that they are composed of honorable, respectable and generally decent individuals whom we elected, that they would be more independent and not beholden to certain party interests,” he added.
Sereno’s camp had earlier decried the decision of the House justice committee in last week’s hearing to deny Sereno to be represented by her counsel. Voting 30-4, the committee members also denied her motion seeking the right to cross-examine through her lawyers.
“The Chief Justice was not afforded the right to counsel, the right to cross-examination,” Santiago said. “What would happen in the proceedings in the dog and pony show. They will display their accusations and lies, but would not give a fair chance to the accused to refute their claims.”
The purpose, he added, is to embarrass, destroy and malign the chief magistrate.
Lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon accused Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.
The House justice panel found the complaint sufficient in form, substance and grounds, and has scheduled hearings to determine its probable cause. /jpv
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