1st impeach complaint vs Sereno 'sufficient in form, substance'

House panel dismisses impeachment complaint vs Sereno
CJ Sereno asks lawmakers to choose democracy over partisan interest

13 September, 2017

The House of Representatives justice committee on Wednesday started the ball rolling on the two impeachment complaints lodged against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Embattled Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno insisted on Wednesday that there is no basis for the impeachment complaint filed against her before the House of Representatives and should be dismissed outright.

Among the Supreme Court documents Gadon used were official lists of Sereno's travel expenses and appointment letters.

The justice committee convened to tackle whether or not there is form and substance on the two complaints against Sereno endorsed by 41 lawmakers.

The committee will also scrutinize if the allegation is sufficient in substance.

It was also pointed out that Gadon cannot impeach Sereno based on Sereno's alleged non-disclosure of her attorney's fees in the Piatco case because this happened way before she became Supreme Court chief justice.

"We maintain that, contrary to the findings of the House Committee on Justice, none of the allegations in the complaints is true. While he may not have personal knowledge, he appended to his complaint authentic records and that is what is lacking in the Alejano complaint", Umali said.

"In this particular case we have a private complainant in the person of Attorney Gadon who did his homework".

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said that upon reading the complaint, he found that Gadon lacks personal knowledge on his accusations against the chief justice.

The Chief Justice's spokesperson Carlo Cruz said their camp is hoping that the Congress will decide based on the merits of the case, and assert their commitment to democracy.

The impeachment complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc.

"These would include our concern that numerous allegations in the complaints are unsupported by evidence or rely mainly on hearsay consisting of newspaper clippings", Sereno said.

The objectors said the complaint was not verified, as prescribed by the Lower House's rules of procedure in impeachment proceedings, although it was endorsed by 16 lawmakers. "There was no statement that this complaint is based on personal knowledge", Zarate said.

But House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo defended the complaint and said that at least 20 documents attached in the complaint came from the SC and are deemed authentic.

Gadon, a defeated senatorial candidate for the Marcos-era Kilusang Bagong Lipunan and a Duterte Youth lawyer, alleged that Sereno committed culpable violation of the constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes.

Gadon alleged that the chief justice has, on several times, manipulated the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council, where she sits as chairperson.

He added that Sereno has always led "a modest, god-fearing lifestyle", refuting one of the allegations of Gadon that the Chief Justice lives in luxury, demonstrated by her purchase of "luxury vehicle" worth P5 million.

They also emphasized purchase and bullet-proofing of the Toyota Land Cruiser for the chief justice was approved by the Supreme Court en banc and can not be considered illegal or impeachable. She has been among the foremost proponents of establishing a culture of modesty and respect for public funds in the Supreme Court.

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