THE Supreme Court en banc has allowed the Justices and its court officials to testify at the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before the House of Representatives.
During Tuesday’s deliberations, the High court voted unanimously in allowing the magistrates, led by Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam, to attend the proceedings.
Justice Antonio Carpio presided over the en banc deliberations after Sereno stepped out of the room since she was the one involved.
Carpio will also be tasked as member-in-charge to draft the resolution containing the guidelines of the appearance of the invited resource persons.
The Supreme Court Public Information Office released a statement saying that it allowed to release the documents “on adjudicative matters, meaning matters that go into the decision of cases which would include deliberations of cases. Justice Teresita de Castro has been authorized to appear and testify before the House Justice Committee only in relation to three matters:
1. On the issuance of the TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) on the Senior Citizens case and the exchange of communications between de Castro and the Chief Justice and not on any matter pertaining to deliberations on the merits of the case. One of the exchanges between de Castro and Sereno was contained in an internal memorandum in which the Chief Justice admitted to revising the draft that “radically changed” de Castro’s recommendations.
The Manila Times testified in the lower House on Monday that there was an internal communication between Sereno and de Castro, wherein the Chief Justice admitted to tampering or changing the contents of the de Castro draft.
2. On the clustering case involving the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), Justice de Castro has been authorized by the court to discuss the merits of her main decision but not the deliberations that went into it;
3. On the case involving then Solicitor General, now Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, Justice de Castro is authorized to discuss the merits of her separate concurring opinion and again not the deliberation that went into the decision as well as her concurring opinion.”
Aside from the three incumbent Associate Justices, also asked to appear were retired Associate Justice Arturo Brion, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, Supreme Court en banc Clerk of Court Felipa Anama and Deputy Clerk of Court Lani Papa.
“As regards [to]testimony on administrative matters, those who are invited to testify on administrative matters may do so if they wish. The court is not requiring them but the court is granting them clearance if they so wish to appear and testify on administrative matters,” the Supreme Court said in its statement.