No need for Sereno to appear in impeach hearing yet: spox

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2018 02:45 PM

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno attends the "Women and Justice Forum" at the St. Scholastica's Institute for Women's Studies in Manila, December 7, 2017. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno reiterated on Wednesday that there is no need, at this point, for her to appear at the House Justice Committee hearings on the impeachment complaint against her.

This, after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez renewed his call for the top magistrate to attend the hearings and give her side.

“From an objective lawyer, sa tingin ko, talagang malakas yung kaso. But if you are lawyering for Sereno, yun ang magiging comment. Kalokohan yun," he said in an interview on ANC Wednesday.

“Confront the truth. Ano ginagawa ni Sereno? Ayaw niya pumunta dun sa Committee on Justice. Kung mayroon kang tinatago, takot ka,” he added.

Lawyer Carlo Cruz, a spokesperson for Sereno told ABS-CBN News that the Chief Justice believes that the impeachment case lodged by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon against her is weak and that there is no need for her to personally refute the allegations in the hearings.

“There further appears no real need for her to appear at this point because the evidence thus far presented has been wholly inadequate to establish any impeachable offense or enough to justify the filing of articles of impeachment," Cruz said.

“CJ Sereno, of course, appreciates the Speaker's assurance that she will be treated with fairness as well as his opinion on the need for her to appear before the House Committee on Justice. But, as previously and consistently declared by her, she has, so far, chosen not to appear for purposes of preserving the dignity of the Office of the Chief Justice and the independence of the Supreme Court,” he added.

Several of Sereno's colleagues at the high court have honored invitations by lawmakers to shed light on allegations against the Chief Justice.

Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Francis Jardeleza, and Noel Tijam have previously attended the proceedings and more justices are expected to attend the hearings when these resume on January 15.

Tijam has openly called on Sereno to honor Congress’ invitation, stressing the exercise is a "constitutional process."

“If she continues to ignore participating in this committee, that would show disdain, that would show contempt to this committee. And it (impeachment hearings) is a constitutional process,” Tijam said during the House Justice Committee’s December 11 hearing.

Sereno has been accused by Gadon of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes.

She, however, has denied any wrongdoing and refused to attend the hearings after the justice panel barred her lawyers from participating in the impeachment proceedings.