4 justices testify in impeachment hearing vs Sereno


SC JUSTICES. Associate Justices De Castro (seated right), Jardeleza, (2nd right) Tijam (3rd right) and Brion (retired, far left), at the House committee on justice hearing on December 11, 2017.

Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Four justices of the Supreme Court – 3 incumbent and one retired – stood as witnesses in an impeachment case filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday, December 11. 

Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, and retired associate justice Arturo Brion, had been invited by the House committee on justice to share their personal knowledge on allegations made by lawyer Larry Gadon. 

This would be De Castro's second appearance before the committee. Her earlier testimony resulted in an "overflow" of information, according to committee chairman Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali. 

Also present on Monday as witnesses were Supreme Court (SC) administrator Midas Marquez, Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) regular member Jose Mejia, and other SC and JBC officials. 

Gadon wants Sereno impeached because she allegedly made key decisions without consulting the Supreme Court en banc, supposedly misused public funds, and allegedly failed to be truthful about her assets. 

The impeachment committee, as Umali repeatedly calls it, is holding its 7th hearing to determine probable cause in the Gadon complaint. 

It had earlier decided that the complaint was sufficient in form, substance, and grounds. The determination of probable cause is the last step before the committee votes on whether to impeach Sereno or reject the complaint. 

Last week, the committee wrapped up deliberations on at least one complaint: the apparent delay in acting on the retirement benefits of retired judges and justices and their spouses. (READ: Sereno impeachment: SC benefits committee sidelined 'Justice Midas')

Umali earlier expected the committee to vote on the complaint by Monday. He has since adjusted the rough schedule, pegging the vote to happen by January 2018, at the earliest. 

Once the committee votes on the complaint, it will prepare a report which will be forwarded to the House plenary. In order for Sereno to be impeachmed, 1/3 of the House must either vote in favor of a report that recommends her impeachment or reject a report that recommends the dismissal of the complaint. 

The Senate then sits as the impeachment trial court. – Rappler.com