2 SC justices skip Sereno impeachment hearing

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2018 06:09 PM

MANILA - Two associate justices of the Supreme Court on Monday did not attend the hearing on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Estella Perlas Bernabe were absent from the hearing but wrote the committee to say that they were not with the SC Committee on Computerization and Library when information technology consultant Helen Macasaet was hired. 

“They informed the Committee that they were designated as Vice Chairpersons of the CCL after its reorganization on July 4, 2014, after Ms. Macasaet was already hired as an IT Consultant," House Justice Committee Chair Reynaldo Umali said.

"Notably, as revealed during our last impeachment hearing, even the Chairperson of CCL at the time of hiring, Justice De Castro, did not know of the hiring of Ms. Macasaet until after consultancy contract was already executed. This is seemingly contradictory to the answer of Respondent that it is the Supreme Court, a collegial body, and not the Chief Justice which hired Ms. Macasaet," he added.

The hiring of Macasaet is part of the impeachment complaint against Sereno, which accuses the Chief Justice of betraying public trust by hiring a consultant without public bidding and paying her with excessive fees.

Umali said Leonen and Bernabe "had no participation at all in any of this until 2014 when memorandum order 19 2014 which re-organized the CCL took effect."

"Nonetheless they submitted to us many documents, voluminous records of what transpired which are basically resolutions memorandum order all administrative pertaining to that which has nothing to do with Ms Macasaet," he said.

"This was not disclosed even to the CCL chair, then-CCL chair Justice De Castro who was no longer involved and did not involve herself starting February 2014 when she realzied the CJ was too interested in assuming the chair of that particular committee," he added.

COOPNATCO Party-list Representative Anthony Bravo asked the justices to submit documents that may clarify what happened since the 2 were already involved when Macasaet’s engagement was renewed and her fee increased.

During the hearing, Umali also reviewed the progress of the impeachment proceedings, revealing they intend to call the psychiatrists who evaluated Sereno on February 27.