MANILA - The lawyer who filed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno admitted on Wednesday that one of his allegations against the chief magistrate was not based on either personal knowledge or authentic documents.
Defeated senatorial candidate Lorenzo Gadon alleged that Sereno committed culpable violation of constitution when she "falsified Supreme Court resolutions and temporary restraining order."
Gadon was referring to a temporary restraining order (TRO) handed in May 2013 by the high court stopping the Comelec from disqualifying a party-list group of senior citizens.
He alleged that Sereno tampered with the draft TRO resolution written by Associate Justice Teresita de Castro, and released a TRO that was "substantially" different from the one written by De Castro.
Gadon, in his complaint, said this amounted to usurping "the mandate of the Court en banc by arrogating to herself alone the running of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary, thereby destroying the Supreme Court as a collegial body.”
"It was only after Justice De Castro confronted Justice Sereno that the TRO was again replaced and rectified," Gadon told members of the House Justice Committee.
But under questioning by lawmakers, Gadon admitted that he did not have personal knowledge of the alleged confrontation between De Castro and Sereno, and he was just relying on a news article in the Manila Times written by alleged court insider Jomar Canlas.
A lawmaker pointed out that this would not be accepted as evidence in court.
"Alam nyo naman po siguro na kayo ay isang abogado, na pag ang iyong allegations are based on a newspaper, hindi po accepted as evidence," said Cong. Romeo Acop of Antipolo City.
Gadon, however, insisted that his allegations were based on authentic records.
But when Cong. Lawrence Fortun asked Gadon if he had a verified copy of De Castro's original draft of the TRO, Gadon admitted that he didn't.
"Well ,it appears Mr. Chairman that, as admitted by the complainant, he has no personal knowledge of the facts alleged there supposedly, and the documents upon which these are supposedly based are not even available," Fortun said.
Gadon said that the issue could be explained by De Castro.
Justice De Castro, meanwhile, issued a brief statement on Gadon's testimony before the House Justice Committee.
“I have never released to Jomar Canlas any information, report, or document regarding the work of the Court,” De Castro said.
Sereno earlier said: "For obvious reasons, the Chief Justice cannot 'falsify' her own notes. And poor note-taking, even assuming that was the case (this is strongly denied), certainly does not amount to a 'culpable violation of the Constitution."
Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, cited the internal rules of the Supreme Court saying that the Chief Justice was allowed to issue a TRO if the court was in recess and the matter was urgent.
The SC was in recess when the TRO was issued.