MANILA - Disagreements over what should be included in the articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno have forced the postponement of Wednesday's Justice Committee hearing to next week.
This was confirmed Tuesday by Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who heads the panel tasked with drafting the articles.
"Hindi namin natapos 'yung articles of impeachment kasi hindi kami magkasundo kung ilan 'yung isasama, kung ang gusto ng iba comprehensive talaga to show that this is really a very strong case and I believe so," he said.
(We have yet to finish t he articles of impeachment because we did not agree on how many should be included, and on the call of some members to make the articles comprehensive to show that this is really a very strong case and I believe so.)
The committee aims to submit its report next week, said Umali.
"Basta Monday or Tuesday we would already have the articles of impeachment ready for votation (sic) in the Committee on Justice including the report and on the next day, we will be ready to submit it to the plenary through the rules committee," he said.
He denied that the delay is due to the weakness of the case.
"You will be the judge when we submit the articles of impeachment," he said.
IN OR OUT?
The impeachment complaint, lodged by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, cited 27 grounds against Sereno.
Majority of the grounds may make it to the articles of impeachment except for the accusation that Sereno interfered with a Muntinlupa court over the issuance of an arrest warrant against Senator Leila de Lima, said Umali.
This allegation is merely an "embellishment," he said.
Grounds that are likely to be included in the articles, meanwhile, include Sereno's alleged failure to declare her wealth in full and pay some P2 million in taxes, and alleged irregularities in the purchase of her bulletproof Land Cruiser.
Umali also clarified that the impeachment grounds do not include Sereno's alleged failure to pass a psychological evaluation.
The psych report, however, may shed light on Sereno's actions, including her insistence against resigning from her post, as well as her fitness to hold office, said Umali.
The delay in the articles of impeachment, he said, does not affect the House plenary's schedule of voting on the complaint after t he summer break or between May 14 and May 22.
Sereno was appointed to the high court in 2012 by former President Benigno Aquino III following the ouster of the late chief magistrate Renato Corona, who was removed for undeclared wealth.
The country's first female chief justice was expected to stay in her post until reaching the mandatory retirement age in 2030.
She is currently on indefinite leave as she prepares for a possible impeachment trial.
Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News