Panel sets hearing on impeachment bid vs 7 SC justices

Panel sets hearing on impeachment bid vs 7 SC justices
Reps. Edcel Lagman, Teddy Baguilat and Gary Alejano show the impeachment complaint they filed against seven Supreme Court justices who favored the quo warranto petition against former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines— The House Committee on Justice is scheduled to hold a hearing next month into the impeachment complaint against seven Supreme Court justices who voted to oust former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon (Oriental Mindoro) said the deliberations into the impeachment raps filed by opposition lawmakers against seven justices is slated on September 4 as it follows the three-day notice rule.

READ: Impeachment raps filed vs 7 SC justices De Castro eyed as next CJ?

Leachon said the complaints filed Reps. Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list), Edcel Lagman (Albay), Teddy Baguilat Jr. (Ifugao), and Tom Villarin (Akbayan party-list) will be included in the Order of  Business of the House of Representatives on Tuesday and will be referred to his committee.

The bid to impeach the justices is not expected to prosper given the composition of the House of Representatives.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Friday that she wants the impeachment process expedited to keep it from affecting the House's legislative agenda.

"Under the rules, we have the three-day notice rule. Number One, to notify all the respondents. Second, for us to also produce several records. We have to reproduce for the perusal of 55 members," Leachon was quoted as saying  in a radio interview with dzBB.

Lawmakers want impeachment over Sereno ouster

The four opposition lawmakers filed the impeachment complaints against seven magistrates including Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, whose appoitnment as chief justice has already been announced, for their supposed role in the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno last August 23.

The six other justices named in the impeachment complaint are Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Andres Reyes, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam and Alexander Gesmundo.

The complainants did not include former SC Justice Samuel Martires because he has since been appointed ombudsman. He replaced Conchita Carpio-Morales who retired in July.

'Culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust'

Lagman said he and the other opposition solons filed the impeachment complete to hold the SC magistrates accountable for their “unconstitutional” move to oust Sereno.

The complainants said the seven justices committed “culpable violation of the (1987) Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”

They added that they should be held liable for “usurping the constitutional power” of the Judicial and Bar Council “to vet the qualifications of applications for positions in the judiciary.”

“The magistrates cannot be allowed to be supreme even in their arbitrariness and malevolence,” Lagman said.

 “To let them escape scot-free is to condone injustice and oppression,” he added.

The seven magistrates named in the complaint voted in favor of the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida questioning Sereno's appointment as chief justice.

READ: SC votes to oust Sereno

Reps. Edgar Erice (Caloocan), Raul Daza (Northern Samar), and Emmanuel Billones (Capiz) of the Liberal Party supported the filing of the complaint but did not sign the document. —Rosette Adel





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