HOUSE Committee on Justice Chairman and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali admitted his panel would not be able to finish the proceedings on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno before Congress goes on a Christmas break on December 13.
Aside from the determination on sufficiency on grounds, the Justice committee will also look for probable cause on the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon.
“In January, we will determine the probable cause. We cannot have the plenary voting by December 13, cannot be. We cannot reach the targeted date no matter what we do,” he told reporters.
Umali said that the Committee was also awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on allowing court personnel and justices to testify.
“Some of the resource persons requested that they be allowed to testify only after the decision is promulgated. This is then used as their reason for not appearing. I am encouraging the Supreme Court to immediately promulgate [their ruling]so our way forward on this will be clearer,” Umali said.
Umali said Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Noel Tijam and Francis Jardeleza, as well as retired justice Arturo Brion, initially expressed willingness to testify on December 11.
Last week, de Castro and Court Administrator Midas Marquez faced the panel to shed light on Sereno’s establishment of the Regional Court Administrative Office (RCAO) in Cebu.
Elated at Tijam
Umali said he was “elated” at Tijam’s statement, reported by The Manila Times on Monday, that Sereno should appear before the House Justice committee, or else she would violate the Constitution.
“I am so elated that one of the justices of the Supreme Court articulated a position that tends to support mine. We are performing a constitutional duty and since this is a constitutional duty and nobody is above the Constitution, then they must follow,” Umali said.
Umali, however, said he would seek the issuance of a subpoena and a warrant of arrest against Sereno because he “knows the ending.”
Umali said his statement in a radio interview that Sereno might be arrested if she did not heed by the committee’s subpoena was merely for “academic discussions.”
Last week, House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, along with House Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, said the House panel could not compel Sereno to appear.