House summons Times reporter, Supreme Court justices
LARRY Gadon, the lawyer who is seeking to impeach Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, has admitted he did not have personal knowledge on the complaints he had filed before the House of Representatives.
During the hearing of the House Committee on Justice to determine if there was probable cause to impeach Sereno, Gadon said that he did not have a copy of the temporary restraining order (TRO) that was allegedly falsified by Sereno.
The TRO was issued in connection with a case involving the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines’ participation in the party-list elections.
Instead, Gadon pointed to Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, who, he said, had the copy of the draft.
Gadon also said he did not have a copy of the memorandum of de Castro in 2012 stating that the Supreme Court en banc did not ratify Sereno’s act of reviving the Regional Court Administration Office 7.
Gadon also said his initial source of information was an article on The Manila Times, written by reporter Jomar Canlas.
Repeatedly, Gadon cited de Castro as Canlas’ source.
De Castro however said in a statement that she never released to Canlas any information, report or document regarding the work of the Supreme Court.
“I have never released to Jomar Canlas any information, report, or document regarding the work of the Court,” de Castro said.
House Committee on Justice Chairman and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said Gadon might be liable for perjury because of the statement of de Castro.
“This is [Gadon’s] declaration and he is under oath and so he will have to answer for his actions,” Umali said.
The committee also issued a subpoena to Canlas to hear his side.
“Maybe Canlas only boasted about the stories and he told it to Attorney Gadon, that’s why his name was tied to this hearing,” Umali said.
Gadon, however, said that he could not be charged with perjury because there were documents to prove his claims.
Ako-Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe questioned Gadon’s accusation that Sereno “manipulated” the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) shortlist to exclude then-solicitor general Francis Jardeleza from the list of Supreme Court nominees.
Umali said the possibility of the accusations being hearsay did not remove the fact that they actually happened.
But Umali said the impeachment proceeding was not a “fishing expedition” for Gadon to gather his evidence.
“We knew from the very start that Gadon did not have any personal knowledge but he had documents.
Something happened that needs to be explained to the masses and that is our goal as the House Committee on Justice,” Umali said.
“The fact of the matter is it happened. Should she be held liable for that, that is the decision the committee will have to make, hopefully that will be completed by Dec. 13,” Umali said.
The justice committee will split the determination of probable cause for the 11 acts of culpable violation of the Constitution, two acts of corruption, nine acts of betrayal of public trust and four acts of other high crimes across six session days.
The panel is looking at a plenary vote on December 13, the last session day for the year.
At the start of the hearing, the counsel for Sereno submitted a letter containing a special power of attorney authorizing her lawyers to represent her and cross-examine Gadon and witnesses against her in the impeachment proceedings.
A few days ago, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez warned Sereno her counsel won’t be allowed to talk if she was not present in the hearing.
Sereno once again refused to attend the committee hearing.
Lawmakers who were not members of the committee were denied the right to vote in the determination of probable cause, 30-3, but were allowed to be present in the hearing.