Sereno lawyers want show cause orders recalled

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyers of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno have appealed to the House justice committee not to be cited in contempt for media statements critical of the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, panel chair, said on Tuesday, December 5, that lawyers Joshua Santiago and Aldwin Salumbides have submitted their compliance to the committee.

Santiago was asked to explain  why he should not be cited in contempt for saying that the proceedings was a “dog and pony show.”

“In his compliance to the show cause order, Santiago said he ‘sincerely meant no ill-will’ and ‘neither slur nor smear was intended,’” the Sereno camp said in a statement on Tuesday.

Santiago said that while he might have been carried away, he was also “ethically-bound to protect the interest of my client, and I am mandated to do so with utmost fidelity and zeal.”

“In the spirit of exercising my right of free speech, and as a zealous advocate, I expressed that disappointment,” Santiago said. (READ: CJ Sereno's band of lawyers in her impeachment case)

'Freedom of speech'

Salumbides also invoked his freedom of speech. He was issued the show cause order for saying that lawyer Larry Gadon’s complaint is “weak, logically incoherent, and legally questionable.”

“Those statements were actually made in response to a question asked of me whether fair treatment is to be expected from the Senate. The statements did not pertain to this Honorable Committee,” Salumbides said.

Human Rights Commissioner Roberto Cadiz was also issued with a show cause order. Before Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia could make a motion on Cadiz’ non-compliance as of Tuesday morning, Umali cut her to say the compliance was sent just then.

Cadiz had said that “law of the jungle seems to be prevailing” at the House of Representatives. 

There was also a motion to cite Gadon in contempt fo claiming that he had information that senators would be bribed to vote in favor of Sereno if the impeachment proceedings reach the Senate.

Gadon explained to the panel that when he said that over a radio interview, he also said that he didn't believe that Senators would allow themselves to be bribed.

Quezon City 1st District Representative Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo told Gadon to “shut his mouth” to avoid contempt charges.

“I submit, your honor,” Gadon said, but he was still required to submit a written explanation to the committee. –

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 or tweet @lianbuan.