MANILA - Lawmakers hearing an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday scolded its proponent for alleging that senator-judges were offered P200 million to acquit her.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon should "keep his mouth shut" if he could not substantiate his claim, said Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr.
Gadon said in an interview over the weekend that he was verifying information that senators were allegedly promised P200 million if they acquit Sereno, if her case is elevated to the Senate for trial.
Senators Panfilo Lacson and Grace Poe denied Gadon's claims on Monday
"Huwag kayo maniwala masyado kay Atty. Gadon... Iyun ngang tini-testify niya doon sa House, puro hearsay. Ito tsismis pa ito -- baka lalong hearsay, triple hearsay," Lacson told reporters.
(Do not believe Atty. Gadon. His testimony in the House is all hearsay. This allegation is gossip, triple hearsay.)
Garbin asked for an apology from Gadon, but the complainant said he should not be cited in contempt because he clarified in interviews that the P200 million bribe offer was just hearsay.
"Maraming tumatawag sakin... pero sinabi ko doon na hindi ako naniniwala na yung mga senador ay masusuhulan. Wala akong nakikitang contempt dun kasi ako mismo hindi naniniwala," Gadon said.
(Many have called me up... But I tell them I don't believe senators can be bribed. I don't see any contempt in that because I don't believe in it myself.)
Garbin also criticized Gadon for saying in media interviews that the House committee could decide on Sereno's case by Dec. 13, before lawmakers go on recess for the Christmas holidays.
"Assuming that you already knew that we already have a decision, that we will issue or submit an article of impeachment, and assuming that it would be passed by the House in the plenary, mali po iyon (that's worng)," Garbin he added.
Several congressmen agreed that Gadon's "irresponsible" remarks have "cast aspersion" on the House's independence.
"Inuunahan niya ang ating committee, nasisiraan pa," Quezon City Rep. Vincent Crisologo said.
(He's preempting our committee and we get criticized.)
In his complaint against Sereno, Gadon said journalist Jomar Canlas told him that Associate Justice Teresita de Castro confirmed that Sereno unilaterally issued an order that went against the collective decision of the high court.
Last week, both Canlas and De Castro denied providing information to Gadon. Canlas also belied that De Castro was his source when he wrote an article about Sereno's supposed abuse of power.
Congressmen advised Gadon to stop granting interviews when he does not have facts on hand.
"Please shut up your mouth with regards to interviews para hindi naman mapasama mga proceedings dito (so that we are not placed in a bad light)," Crisologo said.
"Kung mas marami pa kayo na sinasabi na mga bagay na hindi totoo, baka yung mga tao na nakikinig dito sa ating proceedings ay hindi na po maniniwala sa inyo," Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop said.
(If you say many things that are not true, maybe the people who monitor our proceedings will no longer believe you.)