House’s job is to ‘weigh, not gather’ evidence vs Sereno, lawmaker reminds Speaker

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Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines — An opposition lawmaker reminded Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that the duty of the House of Representatives’ justice committee is to “weigh the evidence, not to gather evidence to plug the gaping loopholes in the Gadon impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.”

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman was reacting Saturday, December 2, to a statement made a day earlier by Alvarez that, unless Sereno resigns, “we will continue to gather evidence related to the allegations in the complaint of Attorney (Lorenzo) Gadon.”

Lagman said the justice committee’s task “is to determine probable cause principally based on the complaint and evidence adduced by Gadon, and not to build up the case for Gadon.”

“The committee must act as an impartial investigator, not an intrepid sleuth,” he added.

But, he noted, “while Gadon is grinning at the sidelines, the committee members are the ones requesting for the appearance of invited witnesses to whom they instantly direct questions, instead of allowing Gadon to first initiate the direct examination.”

The Albay congressman also accused the pro-administration “supermajority” of “actively monopolizing the proceedings in the so-called ‘impeachment committee’” after they had refused Sereno’s demand to allow her lawyers to cross-examine Gadon and his witnesses and also barred non-members of the jusice committee from participating in the deliberation, “which is contrary to established parliamentary practice.”