Gadon admits he has no documents to prove Sereno's 'lavish' trips

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2017 06:17 PM | Updated as of Nov 28 2017 08:23 PM

File photo: Lorenzo Gadon, ABS-CBN News

Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon on Tuesday admitted he has no documents to prove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno traveled first class in her overseas trips.

Gadon made the admission during the continuation of the determination of probable cause in the impeachment proceedings against Sereno at the House of Representatives.

Gadon, however, said he has a witness, Court Administrator Midas Marquez, who was seated in economy class while Sereno was in business class.

Pressed by Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal if that was an admission that Sereno did not travel first class, Gadon insisted that business class and first class were interchangeable. 

When he was corrected, Gadon clarified that he meant that Sereno traveled more expensive than economy class.

Gadon also said he was tipped off about Sereno's alleged lavish travel by Supreme Court employees whose names he could no longer remember now. Gadon, however, indicated there will be documents.

The Sereno defense team, however, said, "The Presidential Villa was chosen and paid for by the Supreme Court itself as the meeting area for the 3rd ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting for 24 hours in March 2015. The signing of the Boracay Accord, the photo-op of the ASEAN Chief Justices, as well as side meetings between ASEAN Chief Justices, all took place in the Presidential Villa."

"Instead of booking additional rooms, Chief Justice Sereno, her staff and part of the secretariat were allowed to stay at the Presidential Villa after the official gathering of the ASEAN Chief Justices at no additional cost to the Supreme Court. By maximizing the use of the Presidential Villa, Chief Justice Sereno actually saved public funds. Clearly, there is nothing corrupt about this," they added.

Gadon had been admonished at least twice to come to the hearings prepared. Gadon's attention was called again on Tuesday's hearing because of his failure to give the House panel a list of possible resource persons, which is hindering the committee from issuing a subpoena.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre also faced the House Justice Committee to testify on the allegation that Sereno manipulated the delayed resolution of the government's request to transfer the venue of the trial of the Maute group from Marawi to outside Mindanao. 

Opposition lawmakers Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman meanwhile said the committee seemed to be doing the case build-up when it should have been Gadon's job.

"It appears that the credibility of Gadon has been shattered because he has no personal knowledge. And secondly they lack support from authentic documents," he said. 

"What is being done now is for the committee to build up a case against the Chief Justice by going through the process of hearing Gadon and some witnesses because presently based on the complaint it has no chance at all to prosper in the Senate so in a way the committee is venturing on evidence gathering to plug the loopholes in Gadon's complaint."

Lagman added they will also have to wait for the testimony of the SC Justices and employees and officials invited to face the committee. 

Lagman however warned that "differences among the members of the high court should not be a viable ground for impeachment."

"We will have to assess the effect of what they're going to say tomorrow and the subsequent days but for those in the high court exposing their squabbles and in a way washing dirty linen before the public is not commendable for an institution which is called upon to be sober and to play the role of arbiter where the political departments fail," said Lagman.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, however, saw no problem with the developments at the House panel.

Other developments in the hearing were the formal signing by Umali of the show cause orders against Sereno's lawyers for "insulting commentaries" against the committee over the media and the House panel rejecting the apology offered by the Sereno camp.