CHIEF JUSTICE Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, in a forum yesterday, Dec. 7, encouraged the judiciary to just focus on work amid the impeachment charges filed against her and its related controversies.
“To the men and women of the judiciary, please continue to focus on your work. Nothing should distract us. There is much to be done for this country. Our country is crying for justice,” Ms. Sereno said during the 14th Metrobank Foundation Professional Chair Lecture.
Ms. Sereno did raise the ongoing impeachment hearings against her, reiterating her firm assertion that the charges being deliberated on against her should bear “no sufficient basis.”
“Allow me to just briefly touch on one action that is being played out in national television. I thought perhaps it is not, it will be a question in your mind why I am not addressing this when the topic is judicial accountability,” Ms. Sereno emphasized.
“I have submitted myself to this process according to the rights that are accorded in my position and I hope that you have taken it all in good faith that that is my intent, to defend dignity and independence of the judiciary. In various fora, I have already tried to encapsulate in very, very brief form why the charges against me, in fact, should bear no sufficient basis,” she added.
“What I just want you to do and I had actually asked the members of the judiciary these three things: 1) continue your work undistracted professionally and excellently as you have been doing in the past; 2) monitor and watch and be on the lookout for the hallmarks of independence, integrity and dignity of the judiciary to be preserved; and 3) continue to pray,” she said.
Ms. Sereno is currently facing charges of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
She is also accused of corruption and other high crimes.
Meanwhile, Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez again brushed aside accusations that the House committee on justice does not have strong evidence and has been on a “fishing expedition” in the hearings.
The camp of the chief magistrate has previously called the House probe a “fishing expedition.” Akbayan Representative Tomasito S. Villarin also called the hearing a “charade” that is “heading nowhere but to a monumental f*ck up.”
“Walang fishing expedition dito kasi (There is no fishing expedition here because) nag-submit ng mga certified true copies (of documents),” Mr. Alvarez said in a television interview.
He added that the committee is compelled to verify the information from the documents presented by inviting resource persons who have firsthand knowledge of the cited events that transpired in the high tribunal.
Institute for Political and Electoral Reform Executive Director Ramon C. Casiple said that the House committee, as prosecutors for the impeachment case, is just doing its job.
“’Yung (The) committee itself is charged with producing the case, ebidensya niya. Walang problema doon (their evidence. There is no problem with that). That means kung maghahanap sila ng ebidensya (if they will look for evidence), by whatever means, including hearing, nasa lugar sila (they are justified),” Mr. Casiple said in a phone interview.
However, Mr. Casiple explained that the hearings appear to the public as a fishing expedition because the complainant, lawyer Lorenzo G. Gadon, has no evidence but only a list of resource persons who can testify. — Andrea Louise E. San Juan and Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz