Sereno stands ground to be represented by lawyers

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Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno — PHILIPPINE STAR

CHIEF JUSTICE Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno has executed a Special Power of Attorney authorizing her lawyers “to exercise and protect her rights and interests in all stages of the impeachment proceedings,” a statement by her spokespersons issued on Tuesday, Nov. 21, said.

“In light of the foregoing and with all due respect, the Chief Justice has chosen to attend the 22 November 2017 hearing through her legal counsel,” Ms. Sereno’s lawyers led by Alexander J. Poblador said in a two-page letter addressed to Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali, chairman of the House committee on justice which resumes hearing the impeachment complaint against her today.

Mr. Umali, when sought for comment, said: “[Ms. Sereno] can be represented by counsel, still the counsel cannot speak for her. Papano niya sasagutin ’pag clarificatory question, paano sasagutin ng lawyer ’yung mga tatanungin (namin)?” (How can she answer a clarificatory question, how will her lawyer answer our questions?)

On the other hand, Ms. Sereno’s lawyers maintained her right to counsel and their right to cross-examination on her behalf, citing the Constitution and due process.

“The Chief Justice need not repeat her position as stated in the Motion of her counsel that in the impeachment proceeding before the Hon. Committee, she has the right to appear through counsel and a denial thereof is a violation of due process,” Ms. Sereno’s lawyers said.

“Since the Hon. Committee appears to be interested in the truth behind the charges levelled against the Chief Justice, then it should welcome the cross-examination of complainant’s witnesses by the Chief Justice’s lawyers,” they added.

Ms. Sereno will be represented by Mr. Poblador and fellow lawyers Dino Vivencio A. A. Tamayo, Anzen P. Dy, Justin Christopher C. Mendoza, Carla S. Pingul, Sandra Mae T. Magalang, Jayson C. Aguilar, Oswald P. Imbat, Enrico Edmundo D. Castelo II, Charles Richard C. Avila, Jr., and Patricia P. Geraldez.

Meanwhile, members of the Makabayan bloc insisted on participating in the committee proceedings scheduled today, even if they are not members of the committee.

“We want to be the voice of reason in this proceedings,” said Akbayan party-list Representative Tom S. Villarin.

For Albay 1st district Representative Edcel C. Lagman, non-members have the right to participate in behalf of their constituents.

“If they refuse to allow us to participate, that will also be violating of the right of the people to information which is recognized in the Bill of Rights,” he said in part. — Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz and Andrea Louise E. San Juan