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Tijam chides Sereno for continued no-show at impeach hearing

By CHARISSA M. LUCI-ATENZA

Supreme Court Associate Justice Noel Tijam encouraged yesterday Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to face the House impeachment panel, saying her failure to do so “constitute a culpable violation of the Constitution.”

During yesterday’s hearing, Tijam took notice of Sereno’s continued refusal to face the House Committee on Justice, saying it shows “disdain and contempt” for the panel.

“If the Chief Justice continues to fail to appear and recognise the process on the impeachment, it may constitute a culpable violation of the Constitution. I encourage her to respect the rule of law and Constitution,” Tijam said.

Tijam, the second SC appointee under the Duterte administration, is among four Associate Justices who attended Sereno’s impeachment hearing yesterday. Also present during the proceedings were Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, Teresita Leonardo de Castro and retired Associate Justice Arturo Brion.

Tijam expressed concern that Sereno might have “been given wrong legal advice” in sending a letter to the House panel dated Dec. 8 declining the invitation to attend the hearing. She instead sent lawyer Sandra Magalang to monitor the proceedings.

“If she continues to ignore participating in this committee, that would show disdain and contempt to this committee as this is a constitutional process,” Tijam said.

Tijam said it is better for Sereno to appear before the panel to explain her actions and answer the allegations hurled against her.

He maintained he attended yesterday’s hearing “to accord due respect to the constitutionally process of impeachment.”

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who chairs the House committee reviewing the charges against Sereno, thanked Tijam as with Jardeleza, de Castro and Brion, for respecting the impeachment process and for recognizing the role of the impeachment panel.

“Your presence is the manifestation how constitutional process should work and be observed. Your submission to the House Committee is the best example of how principles of checks and balances and separation of powers can co-exist in the government without any discord,” Umali said.

Umali clarified that the purpose of the impeachment is “not to besmirch the reputation of anyone.”

“This is not about a person, but the institutions we represent,” he said.

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