Sereno camp insists on right to counsel, says Gadon should 'review his law'


Posted at Nov 17 2017 01:36 PM

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and lawyer Lorenzo Gadon. File/Composite

MANILA - The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday urged lawyer Lorenzo Gadon to "review his law," asserting anew the magistrate's right to be represented by counsel during impeachment proceedings.

This after Gadon, the lawyer behind the impeachment bid against Sereno, said the Chief Justice could not bring before the Supreme Court the decision of lawmakers that only she could cross-examine witnesses during the proceedings.

Lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, a spokesperson for Sereno, said the Constitution provides that the Chief Justice "be accorded the right to counsel and the right to cross-examine the complainant and the witnesses through her lawyers— the same rights that are guaranteed to every citizen of this country to ensure due process."

"Atty. Lorenzo Gadon should review his law. Any impeachment proceeding, while political in character, does not take away the constitutional rights of the respondent. This political process is imbued with judicial character akin to a criminal prosecution," Lacanilao said in a statement.

On Thursday, the House Committee on Justice formally invited Sereno to the next impeachment hearing on Nov. 22.

She is facing impeachment after the complaint filed by Gadon was declared sufficient in form, substance and grounds.

The complaint cites several accusations, including Sereno's alleged lavish lifestyle and non-disclosure of fees she received as government counsel in a case involving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in her 2010 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). 

Sereno's camp has repeatedly insisted on her right to be represented by counsel but the House committee has maintained that only the Chief Justice herself may participate in the hearings, exercise her right to defend herself, and confront her accusers.

Lacanilao added that denying the Chief Justice her right to counsel makes a "mockery of the law."

"It would be a pathetic farce if these constitutional rights are denied by Congress, whose members have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution," he said.

"It is no mystery why Atty. Gadon wants to take away these constitutional rights from Chief Justice Sereno. He is afraid of his own ghost for putting together lies after lies in his impeachment complaint to unjustly unseat the Chief Justice and forward his crooked agenda," Lacanilao said.