Are psych exam results relevant in Sereno impeachment?
MANILA, Philippines – Discuss the psychological reports of all justices or don’t discuss any of them at all.
Talk on Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s psychological exam was put to a stop – at least temporarily – during the House committee on justice hearing on Monday, December 11, after a legislator moved to subpoena the psychological reports of all sitting justices.
Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte made the motion early Monday evening, citing the persistent questions of his colleagues in the powerful committee.
“I understand that [Sereno] got a 4 out of a whatever possible score she could get. What I’m trying to say is, how can we compare this with the scores of other sitting justices? If it’s at par or the same, maybe it isn’t that much of an issue,” said Belmonte during the committee’s 7th hearing to determine probable cause in the impeachment case against Sereno.
Lawyer Larry Gadon wants Sereno impeached because she supposedly made decisions without the Supreme Court en banc’s knowledge, and misused funds, among others. Gadon had earlier asked the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which screens appointees to the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, to reveal Sereno’s psychological exam results. This was denied.
Gadon claims Sereno got a 4 in the exam, with 5 being the lowest possible score.
Several times in the hearing on December 11, legislators and Supreme Court associate justices made allusions to Sereno’s alleged incapacity to lead the High Court.
Associate justices criticized Sereno for her apparent pattern of making decisions without the en banc's knowledge. (READ: Justices on Sereno 'transgressions': Until when will we suffer?)
Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, in particular, spoke passionately about Sereno’s apparent attempts to exclude him from the JBC list when he applied for an associate justice post. Jardeleza accused Sereno of treason, as he narrated the “inhuman” treatment he recevied.
Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwen Garcia later asked if Sereno’s actions to “kill” his career were “normal” for a Chief Justice.
“I believe that it is not the act of a normal person,” was Jardeleza’s curt reply.
Belmonte’s motion to subpoena the psychological exam results of all sitting justices went un-seconded. Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas opposed the motion, saying it was “irrelevant and immaterial and unbecoming” of the committee to summon the exam results of all justices, especially since the Supreme Court had been cooperative with the committee.
The Supreme Court en banc had earlier allowed Supreme Court personalities, including associate justices, to testify before the committee.
Belmonte later explained he was merely making a point.
“If the deviance between the Chief Justice’s exam results and that of the other justices is big, we might have an issue. But if there’s none, I don’t see the relevance of pressing on the psychological results,” he said.
The committee has yet to flesh out Gadon’s allegations over the psychological exam results. Speaking to reporters after the hearing, committee chairman Reynaldo Umali said he is not sure how the committee will eventually tackle this, since they cannot subpoena documentary evidence. – Rappler.com