A total of 10 associate justices of the Supreme Court are expected to testify against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno during the impeachment hearings at the House of Representatives.
According to well-placed sources of The Manila Times inside the high court, six magistrates were expecting to be invited as resource persons to talk about the falsification, anomalies and other irregularities allegedly committed by Sereno.
This will be aside from three incumbent magistrates who have testified before the House Committee on Justice, namely: Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Noel Tijam and Francis Jardeleza. Retired justice Arturo Brion has also appeared before the House committee.
The Manila Times source said the justices lined up for invitation in Congress are Antonio Carpio, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Andres Reyes and Samuel Martires.
Carpio has been issued an invitation. He has written a letter to House Committee on Justice Chairman and Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali to ask for particulars as to the content of his testimony.
Other justices have also received invitations from the House committee but there was no specific purpose stated.
The Times source said some of them have already anticipated the contents of their respective testimonies on the basis of their participation in cases cited in the impeachment complaint against Sereno.
The source said Carpio and Bersamin would be called to testify as to the truthfulness of the raffle of the case of the Maute group, since the two magistrates were members of the raffle committee for cases tackled en banc or by the full court.
Carpio, the most senior magistrate of the high court, could also shed light on the appointment made by Sereno of an information technology (IT) consultant who was paid P250,000 a month or P1.5-million for a six-month, renewable contract.
This issue was one of the charges raised against Sereno, who is accused by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon of betrayal of public trust for entering into the contract without public bidding and approval of the en banc.
The magistrates, during their en banc deliberations, ordered the Office of the Court Attorney to study the case of IT consultant Helen Perez-Macasaet. The high court wanted to know the legality of Macasaet’s appointment which was raised by de Castro before the en banc.
Tijam has already testified that he was the real ponente of the case involving the transfer of venue of the Maute cases, from Marawi City to Cagayan de Oro and later on to Taguig Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Sereno alegedly “stole” the case from him despite the fact that Tijam was the member in charge.
As for Peralta, the source said he could shed light into the issue of the psychiatric exam that Sereno supposedly flunked when she applied for chief justice in 2012.
Peralta was the acting chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when Sereno applied.
A The Manila Times report later exposed the 11-page confidential psychiatric report where Sereno was said to have notched a failing grade of “4.”
“Dramatic and emotional, she appears energetic and all smiles and agreeable, but with religious preoccupation in almost all significant aspects of her life. She projects a happy mood but has depressive markers, too. There is a strong tendency to make decisions based on current mood thus, outcome is highly subjective and self-righteous,” the report stated.
The two psychiatrists who tested Sereno were Dulce Lizza Sahagun-Reyes and Genuina Ranoy.
As for del Castillo, the source said he would be asked to testify on the acquisition of Sereno of a luxury vehicle – a Toyota Land Cruiser.
Del Castillo wrote the March 28, 2017 en banc resolution that allowed Sereno to procure a luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) upon the recommendation of the court’s Bids and Awards Committee. It cost P5.1 million.
In the case of Martires, the source said he would be called to testify on the late release of benefits of the spouses of the justices who had passed away. Martires is in charge of the matter.
The 94-year old Dolores Colayco, widow of retired Court of Appeals justice Jose Colayco, died without receiving survivorship benefits that she had long asked from the high court.
Sereno formed two technical working groups, causing delays in the release of funds.
As for Reyes, The Times source said he would be called to testify on the case of the “Ilocos 6” provincial government employees detained at the House of Representatives.
Sereno allegedly meddled in the case by going to the Court of Appeals herself.