CHIEF Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno will be facing only one verified impeachment complaint and has 10 calendar days to respond to the accusations.
At yesterday’s hearing, the House committee on justice chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali declared the complaint filed by Atty. Larry Gadon sufficient in form and in substance while the complaint lodged by Dante Jimenez and Atty. Eligio Mallari was dismissed due to its failure to comply with the verification requirements.
In Gadon’s case, 30 solons found it sufficient both in form and substance and only four said it is not.
Meanwhile, on the Jimenez and Mallari complaint, only five said it is sufficient in form and 28 said it is not. Since it did not pass the first requirement, the committee dismissed it outright without discussing the sufficiency in substance.
Umali then announced that in the next meeting, the committee will determine if there is a probable cause to continue the trial.
For the meantime, Sereno will be given 10 calendar days to reply in writing and deny the allegations that she committed acts constituting the impeachable grounds like culpable violations of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, graft and other high crimes.
At least 25 lawmakers endorsed Gadon’s complaint.
In his complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution when she allegedly failed to honestly disclose her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) and deliberately excluded the “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” amounting to $745,000 or P37 million she received from the Philippine government.
On the graft charge, the accuser said Sereno allegedly used “public funds to finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle by ordering the purchase of a brand-new luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 model as her personal vehicle, amounting to P5.1 million.
Likewise, Gadon accused Sereno of betraying public trust for her “strongly-worded but misplaced reply” on President Rodrigo Duterte’s narco-list implicating judges in the drug trade, urging the magistrates not to surrender to police without an arrest warrant.
Gadon also alleged that Sereno “prevented the Justices of the Court of Appeals to make a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”
Sereno also committed other high crimes, when she allegedly “obstructed justice by ordering the Muntinlupa Judges not to issue warrants of arrest against Senator Leila M. De Lima,” Gadon added.
Those opposed to the impeachment complaint like Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, Dinagat Isaland Rep. Kaka Bag-ao and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlo Zarate said the complainant has no personal knowledge to the accusation but merely based his allegations in newspaper reports.
Meanwhile, lawmakers found insufficient in form the complaint filed by Jimenez, chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Mallari, president of Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution when they used a verification form used for complaints endorsed by 1/3 of the members of the House.
No less than Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas objected to it because the verification used was not for complaints filed by private individuals.
Only 16 solons endorsed the second impeachment.