House panel dismisses impeachment complaint vs Sereno

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 13, 2017

THE House of Representatives' committee on justice will begin today its hearing on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as the panel is also expected to decide on its form and substance, a House official said Tuesday.

Determination of the form and substance is the first stage before an impeachment complaint may be approved by the House for transmittal to the Senate, which will act as an impeachment court.

The objectors said the complaint was not verified, as prescribed by the Lower House's rules of procedure in impeachment proceedings, although it was endorsed by 16 lawmakers. "While he may not have personal knowledge, he appended to his complaint authentic records and that is what is lacking in the Alejano complaint", Umali said.

On the other hand, Attorney Lorenzo "Larry" Gadon's complaint was found sufficient in form and substance as there were thirty panel members voted for COOP-NATCO party-list Representative Anthony Bravo and Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque's motion to determine the sufficiency in form and in substance.

"The democracy won. And so the complaint is deemed insufficient in form and therefore dismissed for the same reason", Umali said.

"None of the allegations rises to an impeachable offence", Sereno said in a statement.

The four lawmakers who voted against the impeachment complaint were Representatives Kaka Bag-ao, Carlos Zarate, Kit Belmonte, and Rav Rocamora.

She said the public documents released by the high court to the impeachment complainants would vindicate her. "It also covers facts based on authentic documents and what else could be more authentic than a resolution issued by the Supreme Court", he said. "There was no statement that this complaint is based on personal knowledge", Zarate said.

The committee will also scrutinize if the allegation is sufficient in substance.

They also saw no supposed misdeclaration in Sereno's Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth, since the huge legal fees Gadon mentioned were received by Sereno for a case she worked on before joining the judiciary.

"Because the Chief Justice was a conscientious dissenter in the acquittal of former President Arroyo's plunder case and the burial of former President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani; because she consistently advocates and upholds the rule of law, due process and human rights - she is now targeted as an obstruction to the administration's 'war on drugs'".

The complaint alleged that Sereno committed corruption when she, among other things, used public funds to: finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle by ordering the purchase of a brand-new luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 model as her personal vehicle, amounting to more than PHP5 million; and stay in opulent hotels when attending conferences in the country and overseas.

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