The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is dismayed over the House committee on justice finding sufficient grounds to hear the impeachment against Sereno.
“Dismayado kami na inaprubahan ’yung pagtingin na sufficient in grounds ’yung impeachment complaint dahil paulit-ulit naming ginigiit ’yung panawagan na dapat ibasura ito sa simpleng dahilan na walang sapat na batayan at hindi sapat na tawaging impeachable offenses ‘yung allegations ng complainant,” lawyer Josa Deinla, Sereno’s spokesperson, told reporters after the committee hearing on Thursday.
(We are dismayed that they thought that the impeachment complaint was sufficient in ground even if we kept on insisting that it should be junked because it has no sufficient basis and the allegations of the complainant cannot be deemed impeachable offenses.)
Voting 25–2, the justice committee chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali found sufficient grounds to impeach Sereno.
With this development, Umali said the panel can now proceed to the next stage, which is to determine whether there is probable cause to hear the complaint.
Lawyer Larry Gadon alleged in his complaint that Sereno failed to disclose her real net worth, bought a luxury car using public funds, and pressured judges to defy the Duterte administration.
In an ambush interview, Umali said the committee will resume its hearing on Sereno’s impeachment in November.
“We will set this upon our return in November para (so that) during the break, we will really look into it,” Umali said.
The chairman said the 50-member committee will have until March 2018 to conduct hearings on the matter and “complete our task.”
In the succeeding hearings, Umali said the committee plans to call witnesses “to clarify certain points” in the complaint against Sereno.
“We will issue subpoena to witnesses to clarify some points in the allegations that made us decide on the sufficient grounds in the impeachment proceeding,” he said.
But Sereno’s camp said they are still hoping that the House committee concerned, as well as the plenary, will eventually decide that there is no reason for the lower chamber to hear the impeachment complaint.