'Divided court' behind Sereno impeach rap?

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 14 2017 10:57 AM | Updated as of Sep 14 2017 11:21 AM

The head of the House of Representatives justice committee believes there are signs of division in the Supreme Court, which led to the filing of an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

"We are being accused of being so political, but come to think of it, when you look at the impeachment complaint itself, you will see the hand of a divided court," Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House Committee on Justice, told ANC's Headstart.

"It is not as if we thought about just wanting to impeach somebody, the head of the judiciary, but it is all because you will see certain problems also rocking the judiciary and this is quite [evident] in the complaint filed by Atty. [Lorenzo] Gadon," he said.

With Gadon supposedly having several high court justices willing to testify against Sereno, Umali said this shows that "there is something wrong in the Supreme Court and we need to make people accountable."

He said these magistrates may be invited to the House for some clarifications.

Despite perception that President Rodrigo Duterte may be behind the ouster rap against Sereno after numerous criticisms from the chief executive, Umali said the President "has not made any single move" on him or any other member of the House panel.

"I guess this is really because you see a problem in an institution and so because of that you want people to become accountable. This is public office and therefore we must maintain public trust," he said.

He also likened the Sereno complaint to the charges against Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista in that lawmakers did not know the basis of the impeachment complaint until it was presented to the public.

"This was never initiated. We never wanted or there was never an intention on our part to impeach, but when things came out in the open, we felt obliged that some people be made accountable," he said.

The House justice committee on Wednesday voted Atty. Lorenzo Gadon's impeachment complaint against the chief magistrate sufficient in form and substance.