By ELLSON A. QUISMORIO
The House Justice Committee has found probable cause in the impeachment complaint filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The committee, chaired by Representative Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro’s second district, voted 38-2 in favor of the declaration Thursday, effectively paving the way for Sereno’s impeachment trial.
Representative Kaka Bag-Ao of Dinagat Islands and Representative Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte of Quezon City’s 6th district were the two Justice Committee members who entered a “no” vote.
The decision capped the 18 hearings conducted by the committee on the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon August last year.
Gadon is seeking Sereno’s removal on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution, graft, betrayal of public trust, and other crimes, listing 27 allegations in connection with these.
Following the declaration, Representative Rudy Fariñas of Ilocos Norte’s 1st district asked for the formation of a “small working body” to be composed of the Justice panel’s vice chairmen to draft a committee report on the impeachment complaint, including the Articles of Impeachment, which the as yet-unformed House prosecution team will use as basis for convicting Sereno before the Senator-judges.
A conviction will unseat Sereno, the Philippines’ first female Chief Justice.
Fariñas, who, notably, was among those who voted in favor of the declaration, hailed earlier the Justice panel for its “perseverance” in attending the hearings on the impeachment rap.
“Kasi kinakantyawan na tayo eh, ‘yung respondent, lalo na ‘yung mga tagapagsalita,” Fariñas said.
Umali foreshadowed the voting result in his opening speech, saying “sooner than later we will embark on a new chapter in impeachment proceeding as prosecutors before the Senate as an impeachment court.”
“Throughout the probable cause hearings, this committee has gathered sufficient evidence to provide us with the ammunition to prosecute this case toward victory,” he claimed.
Sereno’s predecessor, the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, was also impeached by the House and subsequently convicted.
Fariñas, among prosecutors during Corona’s impeachment trial, gave his perspective on the case in comparison with that filed against Sereno.
“In December 11, 2011, this House impeached a sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Renato Corona, without giving him the opportunity to be heard. In fact, how was the impeachment complaint done or prepared? We were invited to Andaya Hall one afternoon and everybody was lining up to sign the impeachment complaint against Renato Corona. One hundred eighty signed, 55 pages,” he recounted.
Fariñas said he did not sign himself because he felt that the Corona complaint “was rushed” and “done poorly.” He said this was reflected during the trial as the prosecutors “groped for things to say.”
“Now we go to the impeachment of the current Chief Justice. Naka-labing walong hearing na po tayo…and the Chief Justice was given every opportunity to present her side. But she chose not to.”
Sereno’s trial is expected to begin in August.
why it take so long for congress to find a probable cause to oust sereno ? is it because congressmen are stupid or pure OA ? the probable cause is DU30 want sereno out !