Umali: Too early to tell if there’s probable cause in complaint vs Sereno
It’s too early to determine whether or not the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has probable cause despite the testimonies of a Supreme Court associate justice, Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House Committee on Justice, said on Wednesday.
“Too soon to weigh in all the testimonies given,” Umali said after the eight-hour hearing. “There are many other witnesses that we would call in.”
He said Supreme Court justices, including Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, had already signified their willingness to shed light on the allegations of lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon against Sereno.
Umali said he was “grateful” to Associate Justice Teresita de Castro for providing personal knowledge during her testimony before the committee.
“Dati binabatikos kami na wala raw personal knowledge,” Umali said. “Ngayon punung-puno tayo ng personal knowledge. Ngayon palang lumilinaw na meron talagang mga kakaibang pangyayari. Ang tinitignan nalang natin ngayon kung ito ba ay sasapat na ground for impeachment.”
[We were criticized before that nobody testified with personal knowledge. But now we’re full of personal knowledge. Not it’s becoming clear that something unusual happened. What we’re trying to determine now is if this would provide us with enough grounds for impeachment.]
Reacting to the statement of Sereno’s counsel, Jojo Lacanilao, that the Wednesday’s hearing bared no new information and evidence against the top magistrate, Umali said: “Ewan ko po kung nakikinig sila. Pero normal naman yan ang sasabihin nila. Taumbayan po ang manghuhusga kung meron nga bang nilalaman ang mga statements ng resource persons natin. Dadalawa palang po yan. Marami pa po ang darating.”
[I don’t know if they have been listening. But that’s what they would say normally. It’s the people who will judge if the statements of our resource persons are substantial. So far there are only two of them. Many more will come.]
Earlier, Lacanilao said De Castro did not solidify any of Gadon’s allegations.
“Wala naman pong bago no. Walang bombshell,” Lacanilao said. “At kami ay natutuwa na wala namang lumabas na ebidensya na magpapatunay na may ginawang impeachable offense si chief justice.”
[There’s really nothing new. No bombshell. And we’re glad that no evidence has come out that would prove that the chief justice committed an impeachable offense.]
Gadon is accusing Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption and other high crimes.
The House Committee on Justice will resume its hearing on Tuesday to the determine if the impeachment complaint against Sereno has probable cause.
Two of Gadon’s allegations against Sereno, which fall under the culpable violation of the Constitution, were discussed during Wednesday’s hearing – the alleged falsification of SC resolutions creating the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and designating its head, and the alleged falsification of temporary restraining order involving the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines.
Sereno’s camp refuted both allegations as false. /atm
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