Impeachment hearing awaits two SC justices

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Combination of file photos of Associate Justices Francis H. Jardeleza (L) and Noel G. Tijam (R) --

TWO OTHER associate justices of the Supreme Court (SC) are set to attend the House inquiry on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, according to Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo V. Umali.

Mr. Umali, chairperson of the House committee on justice which is conducting the inquiry, said Associate Justices Francis H. Jardeleza and Noel G. Tijam would be available to attend the committee hearing scheduled Dec. 11, two days before a scheduled vote to determine judicial determination of probable cause.

Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, who had already testified last week, is also willing to return to shed light on the inquiry, Mr. Umali said, adding that retired associate justice Arturo D. Brion will also attend the Dec. 11 hearing.

Mr. Brion and the incumbent justices are set to testify on Ms. Sereno’s alleged betrayal of public trust, such as her alleged usurpation of the mandate of the full court, and culpable violation of the Constitution by her alleged falsification of temporary restraining orders and delay of the resolution on Administrative Matter (AM) No. 17-06-02-SC on the transfer of the Maute cases to outside of Mindanao.

Ms. Sereno is also accused of corruption and other high crimes.

On the other hand, today’s hearing by the committee will focus, among other things, on the alleged delay in retirement benefits for judges and justices. Expected to attend are Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez; Deputy Clerk of Court Anna-Li R. Papa-Gombio; lawyer Jocelyn T. Fabian, chairperson of the Technical Working Group on the Special Committee on Retirement and Civil Service Benefits; and Chief Judicial Staff Officer Charlotte C. Labayani of the Employees’ Welfare and Benefits Division.

Meanwhile, some senators have cried foul against the claim of lawyer Lorenzo G. Gadon that a business tycoon is ready to shell out P200 million to each senator in order to win an acquittal for Ms. Sereno should her case reach trial in the Senate.

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson noted that Mr. Gadon had been found to be spewing a lot of hearsay and even triple hearsay when he was grilled at the impeachment hearings.

For her part, Senator Grace Poe said the people are closely watching the case, so senators must ensure the case is decided on the merits. — M.N. dela Cruz with