Sereno dares House members: 'Let my Senate trial begin'

Joworski Alipon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 05 2018 08:57 PM

CEBU CITY - Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on Thursday urged members of the House of Representatives to immediately approve the articles of impeachment against her and initiate her trial before the Senate.

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The House Justice Committee approved the articles of impeachment against Sereno last month, but the chamber has postponed supposed plenary voting in May when Congress resumes after its Lenten and summer break. 

House Justice Commitee chair Reynaldo Umali earlier said the chamber would first see how the Supreme Court would decide on a quo warranto petition that seeks to nullify Sereno's 2012 appointment as chief magistrate.

"Let my senate trial begin! Why are they (lawmakers) hesitating? What are they afraid of? The truth? Do they fear the judgment of the people?" Sereno said in a speech delivered at the University of the Philippines Cebu.

"I am hopeful and confident that the Filipinos' natural sense of justice will compel our politicians to finally realize that they must hear me at the Senate," she said.

Sereno's fresh call to have her day in court came a day after her camp filed a petition seeking the inhibition of 4 of her fellow magistrates from the quo warranto case due to their alleged bias.

Sereno asked Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, and Noel Tijam, the justice in charge of the quo warranto petition, to inhibit from the case. 

The 4 magistrates had testified against Sereno during impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives earlier this year.

"The nation must hear me at the Senate. It is not too much to ask. It is very little compared to what they have made me go through all of these months," Sereno said.

The chief justice has consistently said she "will not yield" to harassment supposedly funded by a "formidable machinery."

"If there is change, you would encounter strong resistance," she said.

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., who was with Sereno here, praised the top magistrate "for her courage, for standing by her announcement that she will not resign."

Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon's impeachment complaint against Sereno stemmed from the chief justice's alleged failure to file Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth before she was appointed to the high court.

Gadon also said Sereno had committed culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes for alleged irregularities in the purchase of a P5-million service vehicle, and for "abuse of discretionary power."

Sereno is currently on leave to prepare for her impeachment case. She was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III as chief justice after the late chief magistrate Renato Corona was ousted due to undeclared wealth in 2012.

Sereno, the Philippines' first female chief justice, was expected to stay as the top magistrate until 2030 when she reaches the mandatory retirement age.