Sereno calls for dismissal of impeachment complaint

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File photo of Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno taken on May 22, 2013. -- BW FILE PHOTO

CHIEF JUSTICE Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno called for the “dismissal” of the impeachment complaint filed against her by lawyer Larry Gadon, saying it was “based not on authentic records, much less personal knowledge” but “on conflated hearsay derived from news reports.”

“This is nothing short of an impeachment exercise based on fake news,” Ms. Sereno said in a statement, which is part of her 86-page reply to the complaint that her lawyers submitted to the House committee on justice on Monday, Sept. 25.

“(T)he complaint should be dismissed not only because the charges are totally false but also because they do not constitute the grounds for impeachment under the Constitution,” she said.

Also, Ms. Sereno said the House of Representatives would be abusing its power “when impeachment is done without sufficient legal and factual basis.”

“If the grounds for impeachment of the Chief Justice can be trivialized to include any ground which Congress may consider, the fate of the Judiciary would be subjected to the whims of Congress,” Ms. Sereno stated in her reply.

She said the abuse of power by the Legislative branch “would in effect place a coequal branch at its mercy and imperil the very existence of our democratic form of government — a government which rests on the principle of independence and equality of the three great branches of Government.”

The Chief Justice likewise cautioned the House against Mr. Gadon’s call for the chamber to investigate a coequal branch of government “under the guise of substantiating his false claim.”

“The extraordinary power of impeachment is not meant to be an excuse to investigate a coequal branch for the purpose of substantiating what is in the first place not true,” said Ms. Sereno.

Asked if Ms. Sereno would resign amid the complaint, Jojo Lacanilao, among the lawyers of the Chief Justice, said during a press conference on Monday that the “Chief Justice will not resign, she will fight this to the end and more. She is resilient, she will stay on.”

As to the chief magistrate’s current condition, Winnie Salumbides, also a lawyer of Ms. Sereno, said, “She is on top of her element…she is unfazed because she knows in her conscience she did not do anything wrong.”

Asked if Ms. Sereno sees the hand of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in the move to oust her from office, Mr. Lacanilao said, “It’s irrelevant kung ano’ng politika ang gumagana rito [The kind of politics that works here is irrelevant] because the Chief Justice is convinced it’s baseless and based on fake news.”

“Ito po (ay) talagang hindi mananalo kung ang ating mga representatives ay gagamitin ang kanilang sense of political justice na nirerequire ng Constitution,” he added. [This (complaint) won’t really succeed if our representatives would use their sense of political justice being required by the Constitution.]

While not discounting politics, lawyer Alex Poblador, who also represents Ms. Sereno, said they would rather handle the matter “based on evidence and applicable law.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Gadon on Monday criticized Ms. Sereno’s reply to his complaint, saying it was “full of general denials and rhetorics which would crumble if confronted by hard evidence and testimonies of witnesses.”

“How can the Judiciary as an institution be destroyed by removing one personality within?…The impeachment case was filed to protect the integrity of the Judiciary which has suffered and in continuously suffering from the whimsical ways and attitude of Chief Justice Sereno,” said Mr. Gadon. —