‘Evidence vs Sereno strong’
HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Sunday said the impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was stronger than the one against resigned Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista.
“Mas mabigat pa [It carries more weight],” he said, referring to the evidence gathered against Sereno.
The complainant, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, submitted complete and authenticated records, and even members of the Supreme Court are willing to come forward to take the witness stand against the chief justice, Alvarez said.
“Why [is the evidence so] strong? Because all the documents are complete, and there are many who want to testify,” he said. “The documents are authentic.”
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, House committee on justice chairman, said his panel will resume the hearing on the impeachment charges on Sereno once the House of Representatives resumes regular session on Nov. 20, or after the Philippines finishes hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit. The hearing was originally set for Nov. 13.
The committee will determine probable cause if the complaint has sufficient grounds.
Alvarez earlier rejected Sereno’s plea that her lawyers be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses against her, on the ground that the rules of procedure in impeachment proceedings do not provide for such questioning.
Sereno’s appeal is still subject to the approval of panel members.
Gadon, in his impeachment complaint, listed 27 alleged instances of wrongdoing committed by Sereno, and accused her of a culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption and other high crimes, and untruthful declaration of wealth.
An independent think tank on Sunday warned Congress against allowing the use of impeachment process as a tool to serve vested interests.
Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and Environment (Pinoy Aksyon) also said the people behind the move to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno are out for vengeance and ambition.
“Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy to strengthen our democratic institutions. It should not be used as convenient tool to serve vested interests,” Pinoy Aksyon spokesman Alberto Vicente said, in a statement.