By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter
THE HOUSE committee on justice will deliberate on Tuesday, Sept. 11, on the sufficiency in substance of the impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, and six other Supreme Court Justices.
“Well, we have found already the complaints… (are) sufficient in form; then on substance,” Committee Chair Salvador C. Leachon told BusinessWorld in a phone interview Sunday.
On Sept. 4, the committee found “sufficient in form” the consolidated complaints filed by three members of the Magnificent 7, a group of independent opposition lawmakers.
Should the panel find the complaints sufficient in substance, Mr. Leachon said they will “continue to the third set and that is determination of probable cause… and that would take long.”
He noted, however, if found otherwise, the complaints will automatically be dismissed.
The impeachment raps stemmed from the quo warranto case granted by the seven Justices, invalidating the appointment of Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno as head of the Supreme Court.
Aside from Ms. De Castro, those facing the complaints are Justices Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Andres B. Reyes, Francis H. Jardeleza, Noel G. Tijam, Alexander G. Gesmundo.
The complainants, led by Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman, filed the impeachment for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
“The respondent justices committed culpable violation of the Constitution when they arrogated the powers of the JBC (Judicial and Bar Council) by supposedly ousting Sereno,” the solons stated in a letter to Mr. Leachon, dated Sept. 3.
By granting the quo warranto petition, the Justices disqualified Ms. Sereno, which goes against the JBC decision in 2012 that included Ms. Sereno in the shortlist.
“In the quo warranto petition there is no allegation whatsoever that the JBC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in nominating Sereno for appointment as Chief Justice. In fact, the JBC was not even a respondent in the quo warranto petition,” they also said.
They said further that Justices de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Jardeleza, and Tijam all committed betrayal of public trust by refusing to inhibit from the petition “despite their admitted continuing ill, bias and prejudice against Sereno.”