Gwen: House assures ‘due process’ for Sereno
Congress will observe “due process of law” if Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will attend the hearing held by the House justice committee to answer the allegations contained in an impeachment complaint filed against her.
“This is precisely democracy in action. It proves that any public official has accountability to the people in this case, the highest official in the judiciary, and under the constitution is an impeachable officer. And any citizen (who finds what) constitutes an impeachable offenses may in fact can file an impeachment complaint,” Deputy House Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district said.
The House justice committee chaired by administration ally and Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro voted 25-2, finding sufficient grounds to impeach Sereno last October 25.
The hearing on Sereno’s impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon last August, is scheduled tomorrow.
Garcia and fellow Deputy Speaker Rep. Sharon Garin defended the House’s intention to conduct a hearing.
“The constitution guarantees due process, it is in the constitution that impeachment complaint starts in Congress and you are now seeing the entire process being played out,” Garcia said.
Garcia said Sereno’s presence during the hearing will be beneficial for her part.
“This is still a committee hearing, it’s not yet the trial. In the committee, resource speakers are invited and asked to speak, and the best person to deny would be the person who is accused,” she said.
In case Sereno won’t show up tomorrow, Garcia said the Chief Justice’s lawyers may be allowed to represent her if the House justice committee decides so.
“It really is a collective decision. So at this point in time, we do not wish to preempt the justice committee and our colleagues. That has to be fully discussed and voted upon,” she said.
Gadon claimed that Sereno failed to disclose her real net worth, bought a luxury car using public funds, and pressured judges to defy the Duterte administration.
Umali said the 50-member committee will have until March 2018 to conduct hearings on the complaint.
He said the committee plans to call witnesses “to clarify certain points” in the complaint against Sereno.
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