House won’t be selective in hearing witnesses’ testimonies vs Sereno — Alvarez » Manila Bulletin News



By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Speaker  Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez has assured that the House of Representatives will not be selective in hearing the testimonies of the witnesses against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as more witnesses, including SC justices, have expressed willingness to appear before the House committee on justice to testify on the impeachment complaint against her.

Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez. (JOHN JEROME GANZON / Manila Bulletin File Photo)

He said the willingness of SC justices and the other witnesses showed the seriousness of allegations hurled against the Chief Magistrate.

“Iyun nga padami ng padami ang gustong tumestigo, ang ibig sabihin niyan [baka] maraming kasalanan (More and more witness want to testify, it only means that she may have committed such allegations) ,” he said in a radio interview.

Last Wednesday, the House committee on justice declared sufficient in form and substance the impeachment complaint filed by Atty. Larry Gadon, president of the PDU30 Constitutional Reform to Federalism and a former lawyer of ex-President-turned Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Sereno was given 10 days to respond to Gadon’s complaint which accused Sereno of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption and other high crimes.

Alvarez said the SC justices along with other witnesses are welcome and are free to testify against Sereno as the House panel, chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali is set to determine if there is probable cause to oust the Chief Justice.

“Kung gusto nilang (SC justices) magsalita, wala tayong pipiliin diyan. Malaya silang tumestigo (If they want to talk, we will not be selective. They are free to testify),” he said after six to seven justices are supposedly planning to testify against Sereno.

In a separate radio interview, Sereno’s spokesperson Atty. Carlo L. Cruz said the testimonies of the Chief Justice’s colleagues would be respected and would be answered by their camp.

“Kailangan pong dinggin natin kung ano ang sasabihin nila. Handa naman po kami na ipahiwatig din ang pananaw namin tungkol sa kanilang isisiwalat (We need to hear their testimonies. We are ready to answer their allegations),” he said.

According to him, Sereno would file her reply to the Gadon complaint on Sept.  25.

Cruz said they remain hopeful that Sereno would not be impeached as the Chief Justice is set to explain “why the complaint must fail.”

“We must remain hopeful. We need to be hopeful. Because we must do anything we can para matamo namin ‘yong aming hangarin dito na kailangang mahalin natin ang Saligang Batas (so that we can achieve our aim that the Constitution should be respected),” he said.

Gadon claimed that the Chief Justice purchased a P5.1-million brand-new and high-end 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser with a reported P4-million bulletproofing job, and failed to include in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) the “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” amounting to $745,000 or P37  million. Gadon’s complaint was endorsed by at least 25 lawmakers.

Another impeachment complaint was filed against Sereno by VACC founding chairman and president Dante Jimenez and Philippine Constitution Inc. lawyer Eligio Mallari, but was “dismissed” by the Umali panel due to flawed verification.

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