Delay seen in House ruling on Sereno impeach plaint

BY ADRIAN STEWART CO

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MANILA – The House of Representatives justice committee may not be able to decide this year whether or not there is probable cause to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Proceedings hit a snag after Supreme Court associate justices Noel Tijam and Francis Jardeleza and retired Justice Arturo Brion asked to give their testimonies on Dec. 11, committee chairman Reynaldo Umali said.

The justice committee was originally scheduled to vote on the probable cause by Dec. 11 while the plenary voting was expected to take place on Dec. 13, the last session day of Congress for this year.

“January na siguro ito. Hindi kami aabot no matter what we do,” said Umali.

“Based on our reckoning, we have until May 2018 to comply with the constitutional requirement to rule on an impeachment case within 60 session days from the time of referral to us,” the congressman said.

“In addition to our revised timetable, the committee would also have to tailor-fit the agenda of the hearings to focus on the areas that the [Supreme Court] justices would testify on,” he added.

The committee already discussed evidence for the charges of corruption and culpable violation of the Constitution that Atty. Lorenzo Gadon raised against Sereno.

It has also touched on the allegation that Sereno delayed the release of the retirement benefits of justices and judges and the benefits of the surviving spouses of deceased justices and judges./PN