MANILA - House justice committee chairperson Reynaldo Umali maintained Tuesday that congressmen have the power to summon Chief Justice Sereno Maria Lourdes Sereno to the impeachment hearings against her, contrary to the statement of 2 senators.
Umali earlier said that his panel was studying if it would subpoena Sereno after she refused to attend the proceedings. He said the committee would exercise its power to arrest the Chief Justice if she ignores the summons.
Senator Franklin Drilon however was quoted in a news report as saying that lawmakers have no power to subpoena Sereno in an impeachment hearing as this would not be in aid of legislation.
Senator Francis Escudero echoed the sentiment in the same report, adding that respondents in impeachment cases could not be compelled to give evidence against themselves.
Both senators also warned that forcing Sereno to testify may trigger a constitutional crisis.
During the hearing's resumption, Umali cited parts of the Consitution and rules of procedure that give the House power to "issue compulsory processes, including subpoena and even the power to issue a warrant."
"Iyung sinasabi nila na wala raw kaming poder dito sa impeachment proceeding, itong impeachment committee, dahil iyun daw po ay only in aid of legislation, is unfounded," Umali said.
"Parang naiinip na ata sila doon o gusto na nilang sumali dito. You will have your time, senator-judges if and when this case is filed in the Senate," he added.
Umali also urged colleagues and the public to "contribute to a better understanding of this process rather than obfuscating the issues and creating an atmosphere of disrespect or perhaps, questioning the proceeding."