3 more justices to testify in Sereno impeach hearing: Umali

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2017 04:33 PM | Updated as of Dec 04 2017 05:45 PM

MANILA - Two Supreme Court justices and a retired magistrate will face the House justice committee next week in its hearing on finding probable cause in the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, panel chair Reynaldo Umali said Monday.

Justices Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam have "intimated their availability" to attend the hearing on December 11, and they will be joined by retired Justice Arturo Brion, said Umali.

Associate Justice Teresita De Castro and Court Administrator Midas Marquez, who attended last week's hearing, are also expected to return. 

"I think depende on the charges kasi charge nila Justice Jardeleza is about JBC. That should be a separate charge. 'Yung kay Justice Tijam is about Maute. Another separate charge yun, yung usurpation, I guess," Umali told reporters.

Sereno is accused of excluding Jardeleza from the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council although he had enough votes because of "personal and political reasons."

Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon had also alleged, among others, that Sereno manipulated and delayed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre's request to transfer the cases against Maute gunmen outside of Mindanao for security reasons.

Marquez is expected to return this Tuesday along with other witnesses who will discuss the ground on the delay in the release of retirement benefits of judges and justices. 

There will also be a discussion on the subpoena of documents at the JBC with the council's executive officer Annaliza Ty Capacite.

ADJUSTED TIMETABLE

The House panel wanted to finish committee hearings and put the complaint to a vote on probable case this week before having the full House vote on the complaint next week, but Umali admitted that this is no longer viable.

"Wala, cannot be. Di kami abot no matter what we do," he said.

Umali also revealed they do not have yet the SALNs of the Chief Justice from her time as a professor at the University of the Philippines, which they have subpoenaed.

"We have not received word yet from UP. We're still awaiting yung Ombudsman will certify that they don't have those records," he said.

Both the committee vote and plenary vote could come next month, as they are given more breathing room after the work suspensions due to the ASEAN meetings, he said.

The 60-session day period within which the House has to dispose of the impeachment complain would end some time in May, Umali added.

Umali also noted that some of the witnesses wanted to wait first for the promulgation of the Supreme Court's decision to allow them to face the panel.

"Because of the inability of the SC to promulgate decision--though they already gave a press briefing allowing the court personnel and justices to testify--yung mga ibang resource persons requested that they be allowed to testify only after the decision is promulgated," he said.

"I'd like to urge the SC to immediately promulgate para malinaw way forward," he added.

- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News