By Ben Rosario
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez today chided Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno for allegedly trying to turn the ongoing impeachment hearings into a propaganda war instead showing up before the committee on justice to defend herself.
In a radio interview, Alvarez lamented that while Sereno has made herself busy touring various forums, she has yet to appear in the ongoing hearings.
Sereno has not attended a single hearing of the justice panel and instead insisted that she be represented by 11 legal counsels. She warned that refusal to allow her attorneys to represent her will constitute denial of due process.
Alvarez said that instead of “using the media,” Sereno should appear before the justice committee chaired by Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
Based on media reports, Sereno attended a mass at the Parish of Holy Sacrifice in Quezon City and later a youth forum at the University of the Philippines where she vowed to resist calls for her resignation and insisted that she had done nothing wrong.
On November 29, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro testified before the justice committee and confirmed that Sereno not only altered a Temporary Restraining Order but also created the Judicial Decentralized Office in Region 7 contrary to resolutions the high court had approved.
“Ang sinasabi ko, dahil nga hindi siya nag-aappear doon sa hearing, talagang paano niya didepensahan yung sarili niya hindi ba? Tapos maglalabas na lang siya ng mga statement sa media, hindi naman valid yun,” said Alvarez in a radio interview. (She has not been appearing in the hearing, so how can she defend herself? And yet she has been issuing statements to the media, that’s not valid)
Alvarez said the justice committee is the proper forum for Sereno to defend herself.
The House leader pointed out that Sereno, being a lawyer, is fully trained in court proceedings that she can fully defend herself in the hearings.
Alvarez during the radio interview said the House justice panel has invited more witnesses to testify on the impeachment complaint following the appearance on Monday of Senior Associate Jsutice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Court Administrator Midas Marquez.
Asked how the House will react in case Sereno decides to step down, Alvarez said the committee proceedings would grind to a stop.
If Sereno resigns, Alvarez said the proceedings of the justice committee would grind to a stop.
“Ngunit kung hindi siya magreresign ay patuloy pa rin yung pag-gather natin ng ebidensya ukol doon sa mga alegasyon na nasa complaint ni Atty. Gadon(If she will not resign the gathering of evidence on allegations of Atty. Gadon would continue),” Alvarez said.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon has dared Sereno to resign as he claimed that the De Castro testimony and other documentary evidences have severely damaged the chief justice’s chance of being proven innocent.
On Thursday, Sereno vowed to ward off moves to impeach her, stressing that the “truth is on her side.”
Alvarez said resorting to publicity aimed at diverting the accusations against her cannot help Sereno disprove Gadon’s allegations.
Tags: Alvarez chides Sereno for allegedly trying to turn impeachment hearings into propaganda war, Committee on Justice, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Manila Bulletin, Pantaleon Alvarez, Sereno, temporary restraining order, Teresita Leonardo de Castro