House committee junks VACC impeachment complaint vs Sereno

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2017 01:45 PM

The House Committee on Justice on Wednesday junked the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruptions impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for insufficiency in form.

At least 28 lawmakers said the VACC's complaint failed to be sufficient in form as the group submitted an unverified complaint at the House of Representatives.

"A pleading that lacks verification shall be treated as an unsigned pleading," House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said.

"With deep regret, I join them in their objection because I have to be consistent: All complainants are warned that when they come here, they should follow the proper form," Fariñas said.

The same House committee however deemed another impeachment complaint filed by Atty. Lorenzo Gadon against Sereno as sufficient in form and substance after making use of Supreme Court documents and newspaper clippings as proof.

But Dinagat Island Representative Kaka Bag-ao questioned why Gadon's complaint was filed almost 2 weeks before the Supreme Court released the attached documents.

"Ang complaint ay finile noong August 2, 2017. Pero sa reference, yung order ng SC came out August 15. I'm just wondering how Atty. Gadon came out with a complaint on August 2 based on documents released on August 15?" Bag-ao told members of the House Justice Committee.

"Sigurado ako na karamihan ng sinabi niya ay hindi based on personal knowledge," Bag-ao added.

Sereno is given 10 working days to answer the charges against her, House Committee on Justice chair Reynaldo Umali said.

SERENO'S SPATS WITH DUTERTE, ALVAREZ

Friction between President Rodrigo Duterte and Sereno started last year after the chief justice made a statement against warrantless arrests at the height of the president's intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

The President called the Chief Justice's remarks "dangerous" and having the potential to "promote anarchy," and went on to enumerate the legal bases for warrantless arrests.

Last August, Duterte also slammed Sereno for "interfering" in his campaign against illegal drugs and threatened to declare martial law.

Sereno also earned the ire of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in June when a standoff ensued between the House of Representatives and the Court of Appeals after both camps issued show cause orders against each other.

Sereno ordered Court of Appeals (CA) Justices to defy the House of Representatives' show cause order in connection with the detention of six Ilocos Norte officials who attended a congressional probe.

In an earlier interview, Alvarez explained that while impeachment at the Lower House maybe easy, the Senate—which will decide if the accused is guilty or not—is an entirely different ballgame.
 
"Sa totoo lang, kung halimbawa, gusto lang namin i-impeach yung isang impeachable official, madali yun, may signatures lang na kailangan. Nasa majority kami, kaya lang, pagsampa niyan doon sa impeachment court, magmumukha kaming tanga doon. Ayokong mangyari naman yun," Alvarez said.