CHIEF Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has authorized 11 lawyers to represent her in the continuation of the House justice committee’s hearing on her impeachment complaint today.
In a letter to the House committee on Tuesday, Sereno’s camp said her lawyers should be allowed to speak and cross-examine the complainant even if she won’t be around.
“The Chief Justice need not repeat her position as stated in the Motion of her counsel that in the impeachment proceeding before the Honorable Committee, she has the right to appear through counsel and a denial thereof is a violation of due process,” Sereno’s camp said in the letter.
“Since the Honorable Committee appears to be interested in the truth behind the charges leveled against the Chief Justice, then it should welcome the cross-examination of Complainant’s witnesses by the Chief Justice’s lawyers,” the letter added.
Lawyers Alexander Poblador, Dino Vivencio Tamayo, Anzen Dy, Justin Christopher Mendoza, Carla Pingul, Sandra Mae Magalang, Jayson Aguilar, Oswald Imbat, Enrico Castelo 2nd, Charles Avila, Jr. and Patricia Geraldez were appointed by Sereno to act for and in her name in the hearing to determine if the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon has probable cause.
Sereno’s spokesman Josa Deinla said the chief justice’s failure to attend the hearing did not mean she was guilty.
“Sereno already aired her side in detail and under oath in her verified answer and verified rejoinder,” Deinla said.
In his complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.
‘Sereno should be there’
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez however said the committee would not allow the counsels to speak without Sereno around.
“We should keep in mind that the lawyers are not the ones who will be impeached, they are not the subject of the impeachment complaint. Now, we will allow Sereno to be assisted by her counsels but she should be there,” he told reporters in Filipino.
“Sereno can waive her right to appear before the Committee, but then it is like she is waiving her right to confront the complainants and the documents presented against her, as well as the witnesses,” he added.
On Tuesday, Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte was not threatening democracy by backing the impeachment of Sereno.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque was responding to a claim made by Sereno in a television interview on Monday that Duterte was undermining checks and balance by supporting her impeachment.
“The impeachment process is a Constitutional process. I don’t see why a Constitutional process, provided under the 1987 Constitution, could be considered a threat to democracy,” Roque, a lawyer, told reporters.
The House of Representatives—where an impeachment complaint originates—is composed of at least 292 lawmakers, 200 of which are members of President Duterte’s political party, PDP-Laban.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI