Carpio declines to testify in House probe
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has declined to testify in the impeachment hearings at the House of Representatives against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, claiming “no personal knowledge” of the issues brought against her.
Carpio wrote Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House committee on justice, on Jan. 10 declining the committee’s invitation for him to testify at the hearings.
He previously asked Umali what questions the committee would likely ask him.
“I regret to inform you that I have to decline to testify on the matters mentioned for the reason that I have no personal knowledge of these matters,” Carpio wrote in response to four of the issues raised against Sereno.
The charges against Sereno include failing to declare her real wealth, buying a luxury car with government funds, and making questionable decisions without consulting her fellow magistrates.
Carpio was the first of Sereno’s Supreme Court colleagues to decline the committee’s invitation.
Late last year, four justices testified against the Chief Justice—Associate Justices Teresita de Castro, Noel Tijam and Francis Jardeleza, and retired Associate Justice Arturo Brion.
Others have reportedly agreed to testify at the hearings, which will resume on Jan. 15.
Poll case, recommendees
Carpio said he had no personal knowledge of the allegations that Sereno had falsified the high court’s temporary restraining order on the case of the Senior Citizens party-list group against the Commission on Elections, and that she had “lied and made it appear that they do away with the voting for the recommendees to the Supreme Court.”
Carpio pointed out he agreed that the Supreme Court should do away with
the practice of recommending the next members of the tribunal since the Judicial and Bar Council was not following the court’s recommendations anyway.
He also said he was out of the country for a “wellness leave” on June 19, 2017, the day Sereno allegedly “manipulated and delayed” the transfer of the Maute cases to Metro Manila.
Carpio also said he had no personal knowledge of the allegation that Sereno had hired an IT consultant with excessive compensation and without public bidding.
The senior associate justice said that he came to know of the hiring only after the consultancy contract was questioned and that the issue was still under discussion by the court.
“I wish to state that unless the allegations are made specific, I will not be able to comment or testify on such other allegations,” Carpio told Umali.
Sought for comment, Umali said he “will discuss first with the impeachment team” Carpio’s decision not to attend the justice committee hearings.
Umali confirmed having received Carpio’s letter.
“As far as I am concerned, my questions to Justice Carpio were already addressed. But I will still ask my colleagues if they still have questions to him,” he said.
A vote of one-third of the 293 members of the House against Sereno will send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, whose members will serve as judges in the trial. —WITH A REPORT FROM VINCE F. NONATO
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