JUSTICE Antonio Carpio has declined an invitation to appear before the House Committee on Justice to testify on the charges in the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
This was confirmed by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the committee chairman, on Thursday.
In a text message to The Manila Times, Umali said Carpio, the most senior magistrate in the high court, declined the invitation to testify claiming he did not have personal knowledge on the accusations against Sereno.
“Yes, [Carpio] declined for lack of personal knowledge on matters to be tackled in the hearing,” Umali said.
Carpio was supposed to testify on the supposedly anomalous hiring of information technology consultant Helen Perez-Macasaet and Sereno’s handling of the Justice department’s request to transfer of cases against the Maute group to Metro Manila.
‘Not a big deal’
Umali said in a phone call the development was not really a big deal, since Clerk of Court Felipa Anama had answered the queries of the committee in connection with the Maute issue.
Gadon was also unfazed, saying “the earlier testimonies of the Justices are enough.”
“The testimonies of Justice [Teresita] de Castro, [Justices Francis] Jardeleza [and Noel]Tijam; those are already more than enough to impeach [Sereno],” Gadon said in a news conference at Serye Restaurant in Quezon City on Thursday.
The three Justices, along with retired Justice Arturo Brion, shed light on the accusation Sereno used public funds to buy a luxury vehicle, and culpable violation of the Constitution for the alleged misdeclaration of Sereno’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and alleged manipulation of the selection process of the Judicial and Bar Council.
Gadon also accused Sereno of betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.
“[The justices] want to comply in the process engraved in the Constitution that the House of Representatives has the power to conduct impeachment proceedings and they are using that [power]as justices and lawyers,” Gadon said.
He added he was “willing to bet P100 to win P1,000” that Sereno would be impeached.
“I am looking for the bets [that Sereno]will be impeached, even if I am not one to gamble,” Gadon said.
ABS Party-list Rep. Eugene de Vera, in the same news conference, called on Sereno anew to appear before the committee to personally face the charges against her.
The justice committee will commence next week, Monday, January 15. Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin and Martires are all set to appear, according to Umali.
Cha-cha won’t be affected
Also on Thursday, the Palace said moves to amend the 1987 Constitution will prosper even if Sereno faces the Senate in an impeachment trial.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. was responding to the comments of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon that a push for Charter change was unlikely to gain traction.
“We respect the opinion of Senator Drilon, but the schedule is determined by the majority bloc, not the minority,” Roque told GMA News.
“That’s why the opinion that weighs heavy here is that of the majority bloc led by Senate President [Aquilino] Pimentel [3rd],” Roque added.
The Duterte administration is envisioning a Philippines divided into at least 11 independent states or regions, each with the authority to manage its resources and craft laws, including taxation.
Roque urged lawmakers to finish the draft of the amended constitution next year and subject it to ratification of the electorate during the May 2019 polls.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI