2 SC associate justices willing to testify at Sereno impeach hearing
Two Supreme Court Associate Justices have expressed their willingness to appear and testify before the impeachment proceeding against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the House of Representatives.
Associate Justices Teresita de Castro and Noel Tijam, in their letter of reply to the House justice committee last November 24, said they are willing to attend the hearings once they get clearance from the SC’s en banc, which is set to convene on Tuesday.
“May I request that I be given time to seek clearance from the Court, during the en banc session on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, to produce at the hearing all internal communications, memoranda and other documents relevant to the allegations in the verified in the impeachment complaint. As soon as the said clearance is granted, I shall honor your invitation to attend the aforementioned hearing,” De Castro wrote in a letter to Committee chairman Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
Meanwhile, Tijam, in his reply letter to Umali, wrote: “Rest assured that as soon as approval of of the Court en banc is secured and the pertinent documents are collated, the undersigned is willing to appear before the honorable committee.”
Umali, during the hearing, said the committee respects the internal processes of the judicial branch.
De Castro and Tijam were summoned to shed light on allegations that Sereno tampered with court documents and deliberately delayed the transfer of Maute cases to Taguig court.
Aside from the justices, former Associate Justice Arturo Brion asked the committee to give him time to wait for the high court’s word on the use of internal documents in proceedings outside the court.
Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, SC’s public information office chief Theodore Te, and SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer Charlotte Labayani also responded to the invitation but said that they have to wait for the en banc’s decision.
Judicial and Bar Council Executive Officer Annaliza Capacite, meanwhile, asked to be excused from attending the hearings after the committee summoned her to substantiate allegations that Sereno manipulated the JBC short list to exclude former Solicitor General and now Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza for personal and political reasons.
“The undersigned would like to respectfully inform your honor that she is not in a position to answer the questions relating to the aforementioned allegation in the impeachment complaint for the reason that she was not present in any of the meetings wherein the JBC discussed the candidacy of then SolGen now SC Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza,” Capacite said. /kga, je
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