MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday said lawmakers who heard an impeachment complaint against her should not have allowed hearings to drag, nor asked her colleagues in the tribunal to oust her.
Sereno, who is accused of misdeclaring her wealth and violating court procedures, spoke in public for the first time since going on indefinite leave starting Thursday to prepare for her possible trial at the Senate.
"The only constitutional manner allowed for handling impeachment proceedings in the House is for it to go under the question of probable cause in a timely manner and not to drag it further nor couple it with extra constitutional help to facilitate the ouster of the Chief Justice such as calling on the Supreme Court to do the job of the Senate," Sereno said in a speech before law students in Baguio City.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said earlier this week that the Supreme Court by itself could oust Sereno if her appointment was deemed invalid.
Sereno also criticized some House members for asking her to resign instead of presenting their case before the Senate impeachment court.
"Either the house found probable cause or not. The proponents of the impeachment have bared their uncertainties. They have been contradicting themselves by saying that they have solid evidence against me and at the same time, calling for my resignation," Sereno said.
"If they were so sure of their evidence even to the point of perjuring themselves with baseless accusations, why not bring it to the Senate?" she said.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon initiated the impeachment complaint against Sereno last year, saying her actions amounted to culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.
The House of Representatives has yet to decide whether Sereno's case will be brought to the Senate, where a two-thirds vote of its members is required to remove her from office.