• Sereno complainant admits ‘no personal knowledge’ of charges


    THE main complainant in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno admitted that he did not have personal knowledge of the charges that he filed against her.

    Gadon made the admission at the resumption of the hearing on Wednesday by the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives to determine probable cause.

    Sereno is accused of culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.

    When sought for evidence he had against the Chief Justice, Gadon admitted that he did not have:

    * the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that was allegedly falsified by Sereno against the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines.

    Instead, Gadon said it was Associate Justice Teresita de Castro who had a copy.

    * a copy of De Castro’s 2012 memorandum stating that it was not true that the Court en banc ratified Sereno’s revival of the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Office (RACO) and that Sereno had deprived the High Court as a collegial body of its constitutional duty.

    Gadon also said that the only source he had for De Catsro’s memo was an article written by The Manila Times reporter Jomar Canlas but added that he interviewed employees of the Department of Justice to confirm the report.

    Despite the “hearsay” evidence of Gadon, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, House Committee on Justice Chairman, said that it did not remove the fact that the allegations actually happened.

    According to Umali, the hearing was not a “fishing expedition” as the committee was simply performing its sworn duty to initiate the proceedings.

    “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.

    “May nangyari, at dahil may nangyari, kailangang i-substantiate natin. Kung hindi nangyari yan, lalabas yan na hindi totoo. Merong TRO, pinirmahan ni CJ Sereno, merong draft. Bakit merong draft? If it is referred to a division, bakit merong draft? Ano yun, inimbento ni Justice de Castro?” Umali said.

    (Something happened and because it happened we need to substantiate it. If it did not happen then the truth will come out. The TRO signed by CJ Sereno has a draft. Why is there a draft? If it is referred to a division, why is there a draft? Was it invented by Justice de Castro?)

    “Justice de Castro came out in the open, may nagsigawan daw. Yes, these are all hearsay, pero ano yun, pipikit na lang tayo ng mata natin na may nag-away, nobody will be held accountable for it?” Umali said.

    (…. and allegedly there was a shouting match. Yes these are all hearsay, but will we just close our eyes that there was a fight and nobody will be held accountable for it?)

    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 Justice Committee 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 and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez warned Sereno against allowing her counsel to talk if she was not present in the hearing.

    Sereno once again refused to attend the House 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. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA



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