MANILA, Philippines – A day before the House committee on justice is set to discuss whether there are sufficient grounds in an impeachment complaint filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, her camp insisted that they should be allowed to cross-examine witnesses when the time comes.
Sereno’s lawyers on Wednesday, October 4, filed a letter before the committee again asking its chairman, Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, to allow them to conduct cross-examinations.
“Since impeachment proceedings are akin to criminal proceedings, the Chief Justice is also entited to these rights which are guaranteed by no less than our Constitution,” said lawyer Josa Deinla, one of Sereno’s spokespersons.
Umali earlier said that only Sereno herself, and not her lawyers, may conduct the cross-examination on witnesses that lawyer Larry Gadon, the complainant in the case, will present.
“It would be setting an unfair, if not dangerous, precedent to rule that the lawyers of an officer subject of impeachment cannot cross-examine witnesses, let alone speak during proceedings,” Deinla said.
Asked why it isn’t Sereno herself who will face the committee, Deinla said the Chief Justice has many roles to fulfill that need her personal appearance.
“All that the Chief Justice asks from the Honorable Committee is that she be treated fairly and that her rights be fully respected. This request is being made in the spirit of fairness and partnership; untimately, it will be for the public benefit if the truth behind these baseless and perjurious accusations are revealed,” Deinla added.
Sereno’s camp has repeatedly called on the committee to junk the complaint outright, arguing that the allegations in the complaint are not impeachable offenses. Gadon has insisted that Sereno is lying.
Witnesses will only be presented if the committee finds the complaint to have sufficient grounds. – Rappler.com