House members disagree on Sereno articles of impeachment

Lian Buan
House members disagree on Sereno articles of impeachment
The disagreement pushes back the committee's deadline to pass the articles of impeachment against the Chief Justice

MANILA, Philippines – The House justice committee will miss its deadline on Wednesday, March 14, to pass draft articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, the committee chairman, said there are disagreements over what allegations to include.

“Kasi hindi kami magkasundo, ilan sa amin ang gusto ng iba comprehensive talaga to show that it is really a strong case, and I believe so too (We cannot agree because some of us want it to be comprehensive to show that it is really a strong case and I believe so too),” Umali said on Tuesday, March 13.

Umali said they will finish it Monday or Tuesday next week. The articles of impeachment will then be put to a vote before the House plenary.

But before that, this has to be included in the House calendar the task of the committee on rules headed by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, who said he’s willing to wait for the Supreme Court (SC) to decide on the quo warranto proceeding.

Charges to be included 

Umali said the articles will “definitely” include the missing Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs), tax deficiency, and procurement issues within the SC such as the purchase of a luxury vehicle.

Some of the allegations in contention is the deputy court administrator’s calls addressed to Muntinlupa City judges handling the drug charges of Senator Leila de Lima.

“The whole idea is to present it as comprehensive as we could then we will just cross the bridge when we get there, probably remove some that may not be that strong,” Umali said.

He added that the articles will try to paint a big picture of how Sereno is not fit to be Chief Justice, and that will include her “psychiatric makeup.”

Umali is sticking to this despite the strong opposition of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) to using years-old evaluations for any current purpose.

PAP said it is incorrect to say Sereno failed a psychological examination.

“Even now as we speak you will see that everyone is already asking for an act of sacrifice, supreme sacrifice, but to no avail because of this psyche which is self-righteousness,” Umali said.

Sereno was given 10 days to submit her comment on the quo warranto proceeding, a separate route that could remove her from office if the SC approves of it.

Experts agree the SC will have the last say on whether or not to remove Sereno via a quo warranto proceeding, or let the impeachment proceeding take its course. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.