September 13, 2017
The House committee on justice approved one of the two impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and ordered her to answer within 10-day period.
The complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon was declared sufficient in form and substance while the second, filed by the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption was dismissed for insufficiency in form.
“The respondent (Sereno) shall answer the complaint within ten days from receipt of said notice and serve the copy of the answer to the complainant,” Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House justice committee in Wednesday’s hearing.
“The committee shall immediately furnish the respondent with a copy of the resolution and or verified complaint,” said Umali. He added no motion to dismiss will be entertained.
Sereno's spokesperson Carlo Cruz, said: "We maintain that, contrary to the findings of the House Committee on Justice, none of the allegations in the Gadon complaint is true. For this reason, we respectfully submit that the complaint cannot be considered sufficient in form and substance," the lawyer added.
Cruz said the allegations in the complaint are all not true.
"None of the allegations rises to an impeachable offense. The complaint against her seems designed to maximize the political spectacle, with the goal of eroding her credibility through innuendo and malicious allegations. This is detrimental to the independence of the judiciary upon whom all citizens rely to defend their rights and to check any abuse," Cruz said.
Deemed sufficient in form and substance was the first complaint against Sereno filed by Gadon, president of the PDU30 Constitutional Reform to Federalism, endorsed by at least 25 lawmakers where the complainant accused the Chief Justice of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption and other high crimes.
The second impeachment complaint filed by the VACC Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. lawyer Eligio Mallari and endorsed by 16 lawmakers was dismissed for being insufficient in form after it used improper verification that failed to state knowledge of the charges they alleged.
The four lawmakers who voted against the two motions were Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Quezon City Rep. Kit Belmonte, and Siquijor Rep. Ramon Rocamora.
Zarate said Gadon's impeachment complaint should have been dismissed as complainants lack personal knowledge.
"I don't think that is personal knowledge. I don't think Gadon was present when these things happened or took place. There are other allegations here that I think are pure hearsay," said Zarate.
House Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said at least 20 authentic records were presented by Gadon from the Supreme Court (SC) that AKO-Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. echoed.
Gadon alleged in the first impeachment complaint that Sereno bought an overpriced P5.1 million brand-new and high-end 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser with a reported P4 million bulletproofing job, failure to declare in her statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN) the “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” amounting to $745,000 or P37 million, expensive travel allowances, among others. DMS
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