By ROY MABASA
The Supreme Court (SC) allowed yesterday its justices and court officials to appear and testify before the committee of the House of Representatives that is hearing the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno.
Those invited by the House committee on justice were Associate Justices Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro and Noel G. Tijam, and Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, Clerk of Court Felipe Anama, Spokesperson Theodore O. Te, and chief judicial staff officer Charlotte Labayani. Also invited was retired SC Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion.
In a ruling handed down after its full court session, the SC said that “as far as the invitation is for testimony on administrative matters, any official of the Supreme Court who is invited may appear and give testimony if he/she so wishes.”
But it said that “as far as the invitation is for testimony on adjudication, only Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro is authorized to testify.”
Justice de Castro’s testimony is limited on three issues.
Among other alleged impeachable charges, Sereno was accused of not declaring her earnings as a private lawyer before her appointment to the SC.
She was also charged with culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
Last August, the SC allowed the release of court records and documents needed by two groups which sought Sereno’s impeachment.
Official copies of the court records and documents were sought by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. (VPCI).
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