Sereno’s hold on high court ‘shaky’ — solon

ORIENTAL Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House committee on justice, said Sunday Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s “shaky leadership” might have triggered the filing of two impeachment complaints against her.

“Actually, when I browsed over the impeachment complaint, I can see the hand of the court itself,” he told dzBB radio.

At least five Supreme Court justices would testify in Congress, he said, adding such could be an indication that Sereno’s problem could have started “within the court” itself.

“The problem all began inside. That’s why I think there is a division even within,” he said.

Lorenzo Gadon, a lawyer who filed the second impeachment rap against Sereno, was able to obtain important dossiers to back his allegations.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

“Attorney Gadon had the documents authenticated. All of those or many [allegations] emanated from the Supreme Court. These were filed and submitted to us,” Umali said.

“What is surprising is, the Supreme Court allowed to [furnish the documents]. So you can see there is a [rift] at the Supreme Court.  This will not augur well for the Supreme Court because while they can be independent in their own judgment, the leadership must not be divided.”

On Aug. 30 25 members of the House of Representatives endorsed the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno.

Gadon said Sereno committed betrayal of public trust over the Supreme Court’s “whimsical” and “excessive” purchase of the latest model of the Toyota Land Cruiser worth P5.1 million, and that she failed to declare “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” of $745,000 or P37 million.

Umali vowed to act swiftly on the impeachment cases against the chief justice.

“I don’t want to procrastinate. I don’t want to prolong the agony. I [always] try to resolve issues before me because I have other things to do which are equally important, except that this is a constitutional mandate. So we have to give priority to it,” he said.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption that filed the first impeachment complaint against  Sereno was able to get endorsements from 16 lawmakers in Congress on Sept. 5.

According to Umali, his committee on justice will take up the two impeachment complaints on  Wednesday.

On the other hand, Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista’s impeachment case will be heard next week.

Former representative Jacinto Paras of Negros Oriental, along with maverick lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, filed the impeach rap against Bautista over his alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Topics: Rep. Reynaldo Umali , Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno , impeachment complaints
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