House lawmakers told: Be 'circumspect' in comments on Sereno hearing

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2017 12:32 PM | Updated as of Dec 05 2017 12:50 PM

MANILA - Lawmakers at the House of Representatives were asked on Tuesday to be "circumspect" in their comments regarding the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

"As we require lawyers and/or even Human Rights commissioner to explain to us, we also read in the papers some of our members casting aspersions on the integrity of this committee, of this proceeding, and of the members," said Justice Committee Chair Reynaldo Umali.

Umali's committee is finding probable cause in the impeachment complaint against Sereno filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon.

Quezon City Representative Vincent Crisologo asked Umali to identify the lawmakers he was referring to, but the House leader refused, saying he did not have the records with him.

Leyte Representative Vicente Veloso, vice chair of the committee, said according to the Constitution, the said member "can be expelled on disorderly behavior," on a two-thirds vote of the plenary.

"If is true that a member of Congress misbehaved by even casting aspersions, very bad aspersions to what we are doing here and even to a point calling this procedure a ‘f*cked up proceeding,’ may I request that we take a serious look at this allegation because this is very serious coming from a member of Congress, of this House of Representatives," he said.

The justice panel previously issued a show-cause order to Joshua Santiago and Aldwin Salumbides, 2 of Sereno's lawyers, after they were quoted in a newspaper article as saying that the House proceedings have turned into a "dog and pony show."

They also asked CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz to explain why he should not be cited in contempt for supposedly saying that the "law of the jungle seems to be prevailing" in the impeachment proceedings.

Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia said the committee has received manifestations from Santiago and Salumbides "apologizing in effect for the colorful language with which they described these proceedings," but noted that Cadiz has not yet submitted his reply.

Umali corrected her, saying they have received Cadiz's manifestation "at this very moment." It went beyond the 72 hours given to them to explain their statements after receipt of the show cause order.

"We do hope that this is not how they conduct business in the Commission on Human Rights, where they go beyond the stipulated period to comply with a very clear show-cause order," said Garcia.