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House panel: 'Sufficient grounds' in Sereno impeachment complaint

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The House justice committee on Thursday, October 5, declared that the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has "sufficient grounds."

“[The committee votes] that the complaint alleges sufficient grounds for impeachment,” said committee chairman Reynaldo Umali. Twenty-five members of the committee voted in favor to declare there were sufficient grounds in the complaint while two opposed it.

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman and Dinagat Representative Kaka Bag-ao argued that the sufficiency in grounds should be tackled per complaint. The complaint of lawyer Larry Gadon cites at least 27 points against Sereno.

Lagman, who belongs to the independent minority bloc, could not vote as he is not a member of the committee. Bag-ao, a member of the majority, is part of the committee. 

Umali argued that this was premature, since the committee still needs to determine probable cause in the complaint. 

The committee had earlier voted to declare Gadon's complaint sufficient in form and substance. The committee will now deliberate to determine if there is probable cause to pursue the impeachment complaint. Umali said this would happen in November, when Congress resumes session. 

Session is set to adjourn on October 14 and resume on November 13. 

Sereno, through her lawyers, had earlier urged the committee to junk the complaint because Gadon’s issues against her were supposedly not impeachable offenses. (READ: How Sereno answered her impeachment complaint)

The committee is set to also discuss what to do with two letters filed by Sereno's camp, asking that her lawyers be allowed to cross-examine Gadon's witnesses.

Umali himself has said that only Sereno would be allowed to conduct the cross-examination. – Rappler.com