MANILA - Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has inquired with the justice committee of the House of Representatives on matters to be covered by his requested testimony at the resumption of hearings on the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno next year.
In a letter dated Dec. 12, 2017, Carpio requested that he be informed “of what topics or matters will be asked during the committee hearings of each of the [SC] officials and employees named in your letter of 7 December 2017.”
The House committee had requested magistrates of the high court, the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Appeals, and judges of trial courts and other officers of the judiciary to appear at the continuation of impeachment hearings in January.
The justice committee’s hearings are aimed at determining probable cause to bring Sereno to trial before the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court.
The proceedings stemmed from the complaint of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who accused Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes.
Among issues raised in Gadon’s complaint are Sereno’s alleged corruption, failure to declare her earnings as government legal researcher in a case involving the controversial Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, making illegal appointments, manipulation of court processes, issuance of resolutions not reflective of deliberations and actions taken by the court en banc, and extravagance, including the purchase of a P5.1-million Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 official service vehicle.
Gadon also accused Sereno of sitting on the survivorship claims of spouses of justices and judges and manipulation of the Judicial and Bar Council to exclude former Solicitor General and now Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza in the shortlist of names for the high court post in 2014.
Several High Court justices have already appeared to testify in the impeachment hearings, namely Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Francis Jardeleza, and Noel Tijam. Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, and SC en banc Clerk of Court Felipa Anama have also appeared in the hearings.
The Supreme Court, with the inhibition of Sereno, had unanimously voted to allow its justices, officials, and employees to testify in the hearings granted that the topics be limited to administrative matters and cases already decided by the court.