Sereno not surprised over House panel approval of draft impeach case
It came as no surprise for Chief Justice on-leave Maria Lourdes Sereno, who has been “eagerly” awaiting the House justice committee’s approval of the articles of impeachment, as she prepares to face her looming impeachment trial before the Senate.
Lawyer Josa Deinla, one of the spokespersons of Sereno, said they already expected the decision of the House panel, which voted 33-1, ruling in favor of certifying the articles of impeachment against the country’s top magistrate.
“Hindi naman ikinagulat ng aming kampo kung ano yung narinig nating ulat sa committee on justice dahil yan naman ay batay narin sa mga nagdaang pagdinig sa komite at nabasa narin namin batay dun sa naging botohan on the finding of probable cause,” Deinla told reporters moments after the House justice committee’s decision on Monday.
Deinla maintained their earlier stance that the allegations against Sereno hurled by lawyer-complainant Lorenzo Gadon were “baseless” and “not impeachable offenses.”
“Pareho parin naman ang aming obserbasyon yung mga nailabas na ulat na yan ay natilawas sa mga ebidensyang mismong inihain sa komite at hindi parin nagcoconstitute ng impeachable offense, sa aming palagay hindi parin sapat para tumindig as impeachable offenses,” she said.
“Gayunpaman patuloy yung paghahanda ni Chief Justice sa kanyang depensa and she actually eagerly awaits the articles of impeachment,” she added.
Even Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, the lone justice panel member who voted against the articles of impeachment, was convinced that the 24 allegations approved by the committee were not impeachable offenses.
“May mga problema, I agree may mga problema. Pero hindi siya enough para sabihin mong impeachable offense. Lahat ng bagay maipapaliwanag,” Belmonte said.
“And I’m actually glad na pumunta na sila sa trial. Pag dumating sila sa trial proper, then dapat, and I hope mag-participate si Chief Justice. Doon lalabas ang katotohanan. Kailangan talaga yung time niya,” he added.
But the lawmaker also believes that the House plenary would eventually approve the impeachment complaint and transmit it to Senate.
“I’m pretty sure we will find probable cause and iaakyat sa impeachment. Nakita naman natin sa justice committee from the very start, more or less foregone conclusion. Ang maganda lang dito dinaan namin sa due process,” he said.
Meanwhile, House justice committee chairpersons Rep. Reynaldo Umali said the quo warranto petition questioning the validity of Sereno’s appointment before the Supreme Court (SC), if approved, may render the impeachment proceedings at the lower House “moot and academic.”
Umali, nevertheless, noted the 15 probable cause hearings would not be put to waste since it “exposed all the failings of the Chief Justice.”
“Hindi naman set aside. We would not have known na wala palang finile na SALN if not for these committee hearings. May valor yung nangyaring probable cause hearing namin cause that’s what exposed all the failings of the Chief Justice,” he added.
Sereno is currently on an indefinite leave to prepare for her impending impeachment trial at the Senate, which would turn into an impeachment court to hear the impeachment case. /kga
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