House panel calls 5 SC justices, ex-Justice Brion, to Sereno impeachment hearing

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In file photo, Speaker Alvarez (R) confers with Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas (L) and Justice committee chair Reynaldo Umali at Tuesday's (Nov. 28) hearing on the Sereno impeachment case. HANDOUT PHOTO FROM H.O.R.

MANILA, Philippines – Six Supreme Court Associate Justices, including one former magistrate, will be called to the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday, December 11.

Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, chairperson of the House justice committee, said the following would be invited: Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Samuel Martires, Mariano del Castillo, and former Associate Justice Arturo Brion.

De Castro had appeared at the committee’s hearing on November 29.

The impeachment complaint filed against Sereno by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon accused her of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption and other high crimes.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the testimonies of the witnesses in the earlier hearings were slowly unraveling the flaws in Sereno’s defenses.

He said he has advised the justice panel to be thorough in the conduct of the proceedings to flesh out all details that would bolster the case against Sereno.

“Slowly, napu-prove ang mga allegations. Nagkakaroon ng matibay na basehan. … Hopefully, mai-strengthen ang mga testimonies at additional documents para naman ‘pag nireport out ng committee ang Articles of Impeachment ay talagang matibay na matibay, we are standing on solid ground,” Alvarez said in a news conference.

[Slowly, the allegations are being proven. The case is getting firmer basis. Hopefully, the testimonies and additional documents can be strengthened for the Justice committee can report out an Articles of Impeachment that is reallhy strong; we are standing on solid ground].

Meanwhile, he warned his colleagues critical of the proceedings to be objective or face ethics complaints.

“Wala tayong ibang tinitingnan dito kundi iyon katotohanan lang, nakita naman natin na dahan-dahan, lumalabas iyong katotohanan [We are looking for nothing except the truth. As you can see, the truth is slowly unraveling],” he said.

Alvarez also said that because Sereno refused to face the proceedings, her denials and explanations to be submitted before the committee would be treated as “a mere scrap of paper.”