By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Of the two impeachment complaints filed against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno at the Lower Chamber, the ouster petition filed by Atty. Larry Gadon hurdled the House Committee on Justice after it was declared sufficient in form and substance.
Voting 30-4, the House panel, chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali declared the Gadon complaint sufficient in form and substance. The impeachment complaint filed by VACC founding chairman and president Dante Jimenez and Philippine Constitution Inc. lawyer Eligio Mallari was “dismissed” due to flawed verification.
Amid the protest registered by four lawmakers, the Umali panel sided with the Gadon complaint, maintaining that it is a “verified complaint” and “is based on authentic records.”
“Many of the allegations are based on authentic documents and these were endorsed by lawmakers,” Umali said.
Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas noted that Supreme Court itself ordered the release of the certified true copy of the 20 documents on allegations against Sereno as contained in the Gadon complaint.
Before the 30-4 voting, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Dinagat Island Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Akbayan paty list Rep. Tom Villarin said the complaint was insufficient in form, citing that the allegations were “based on newspaper clippings” and were “mere hearsay.”
“As to the form, I think the impeachment complaint is already defective,” Zarate said. “These are hearsay. These proceedings should not be used as a fishing expedition,” he said.
Bag-ao, a lawyer, said she objected to the complaint based on form, explaining that 11 allegations in the complaint were based on newspaper clippings. She asked how Gadon was able to come up with his complaint on August 2 based on the documents released by the SC on August 15.
For his part, Lagman said some of the allegations contained in the Gadon complaint were matters “pending deliberation and determination” by the SC.
Villarin said the impeachment complaint should be supported by evidence and not be bare allegations of news reports. “If we go by our rules, these are all mere hearsay evidence,” he said.
After declaring the complaint sufficient in form, the House panel tackled and put to vote whether the ouster petition was sufficient in substance. It was Kabayan party list Rep. Harry Roque who moved to declare the complaint sufficient in substance.
The voting remained 30-4 with Lagman’s group declaring the Gadon complaint sufficient in substance.
During the second round of voting, the Umali panel junked on Wednesday the impeachment complaint filed by Jimenez and Mallari due to flawed verification.
Voting 28-5, the Umali panel junked the complaint filed by Jimenez and Mallari.
Umali said Sereno will be given 10 days to respond to the impeachment case filed by Gadon. “That would be more than a week from now,” he said.
Whether or not Sereno files her answer to the complaint, the Umali panel is expected to determine if there is probable cause to impeach her.
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