MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno could face a possible impeachment trial by May 2018 if one third of the House of Representatives votes in favor of the impeachment complaint before Holy Week, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali said the House justice committee will be focusing on the accusation of betrayal of public trust against Sereno as the hearings resume on January 15, Monday. He added that the hearings at the justice panel could last until February.
"Out of 27 allegations, nandoon pa lang tayo sa 5 or 6 na nako-cover natin. Marami pa ang gustong tumestigo. It will take some time. Siguro aabutin pa tayo hanggang Pebrero," he said.
(Out of 27 allegations, we've only covered 5 or 6 so far. There's a lot of individuals who want to testify. It will take some time, probably until February.)
He said that after the hearings, he expects the justice panel to transmit the complaint to the plenary for a possible vote before Holy Week.
If the impeachment complaint passes through plenary vote before Holy Week, it will be elevated to the Senate impeachment court by the month of May, he added.
"'Yung May po 'yun 'yung siguro kung hindi hindering during the break dun kami magfa-file ng -- kung saka-sakali po -- magfa-file ng impeachment sa Senado. Doon ang hearing na po sa Senado nito," Umali said.
"Hindi naman po natin minamadali ito dahil talagang gusto ng Kamara de Representantes e makompleto natin ito para pagdating natin sa trial ay smooth sailing kung saka-sakali," he added.
(We are not in a rush because the House of Representatives want to complete the process so if ever the complaint reaches trial, it will be smooth sailing.)
The impeachment complaint was filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon accusing the Chief Justice of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.
Umali previously said 3 more magistrates are likely to attend the proceedings. Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has also inquired about the matters to be covered by his requested testimony.
Last year's hearings have tackled Sereno's supposed alleged deliberate delay in granting survivorship claims of families of late justices and an order creating the Judiciary Decentralized Office.
Aside from Sereno, impeachment raps were also filed before the House of Representatives against former Comelec chief Andres Bautista and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.