Sereno camp says it's hearsay unless source testifies under oath
MANILA - House Justice Committee Chair Reynaldo Umali on Monday said his office received a sealed envelope from an anonymous source regarding an incident related to the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Umali said his staff received the envelope over the weekend. He said his staff could not track its sender and "and cannot confirm if it came again from a small lady."
The document contained a report on the meeting of chief justices of the Southeast Asian nations in 2014, he said.
A portion of the report read: “The Chief Justice stated that the Philippines would be pleased to host the next ASEAN Chief Justices’ Meeting next year. The Chief Justice announced that the famous Boracay Island will be the venue for the 3rd ASEAN Chief Justices’ Meeting.”
Umali said this is "totally different" from Sereno's claim that the top magistrates "unanimously chose the Philippines" to host the 2015 iteration of the event and also choose Boracay as the venue through "unanimous acclaim."
"From the facts established in previous hearings, there appears to be a lot of inconsistencies in the answer submitted by the Respondent. More often than not, the allegations in the answer are contrary and usually misleading to the issue at hand," he said in his opening statement.
He also noted of a newspaper report where Sereno was quoted to have said “I have never told a lie.”
"If the Chief Justice’s answer is any indication, I wonder what are considered lies," he said.
The revelation from Umali's anonymous source was "just a distraction," said the camp of Sereno.
"Unless the 'anonymous sender' comes out to testify under oath, the so-called revelation is just hearsay and therefore has no probative value," spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao told ABS-CBN News.
"The fact remains that the Boracay meeting of the ASEAN Chief Justices was conducted above board with the approval of the Supreme Court en banc. There is no case for impeachment that can be hurled against CJ Sereno on this non-issue," he said.
THE "SMALL LADY"
Umali's claim came just 6 years after he also produced documents from an anonymous source for the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
In 2012, while the Senate was hearing the impeachment of Sereno's predecessor, Umali said he received bank documents from a "small lady" inside the Senate.
A check on the Senate's Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) recordings, however, did not show any small lady handing over documents to Umali.
Umali denied that House prosecutors produced the documents.
The prosecutors later used Umali's document to request for a subpoena of Corona's bank records. - with Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News