By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Insofar as the impeachment of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is concerned, “the writing is already on the wall,” the chairman of the House committee on justice said today.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali hinted it is quite expected that Sereno will be impeached given that Congress is dominated by President Duterte’s allies as the House impeachment panel resumes its ouster hearings against Sereno.
He said their series of impeachment hearings, which will be concluded in February is just a matter of formality.
“The Speaker has spoken and there is a super majority, ” he said in a radio interview, as Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta and Samuel Martires are set to face the House impeachment panel tomorrow, Jan. 15.
Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez earlier said he found overwhelming probable cause to oust Sereno, citing the testimonies of the witnesses and documents submitted to the panel are enough to pin the Chief Justice down.
“Minsan ako ay natanong, sabi ko the writing is already on the wall.
Kaya kami dito ay pinatitibay na lang namin kung ano ang pagtatapusan namin sa paggawa ng articles of impeachment,” he said.
Umali said before they vote as to whether or not there is probable cause to impeach Sereno, they need at least 9 to 10 hearings as they will accommodate justices from Court of Appeals and Sandiganbayan as witnesses.
He said Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando and Sandiganbayan Justice Geraldine Faith Econg are also expected to testify.
In December last year, Umali disclosed that SC Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Andres Reyes Jr. have expressed readiness to be panel’s witnesses.
Umali earlier said they are eyeing to transmit the Articles of Impeachment against Sereno to the Senate Impeachment Court by March.
He said his panel will decide today, Jan. 15 if they will seek the appearance of Supreme Court (SC) senior Associate Justice
Antonio Carpio after the latter declined to testify, saying that he has no personal knowledge on the issues raised against Sereno.
“I will ask them (panel members) kung meron pa [silang itatanong kay
Justice Carpio]. Kung meron, eh ‘di iimbitahin ulit natin,” he said, noting the other witnesses already addressed the questions being asked from Carpio.
Carpio said he has personal knowledge on the alleged irregularities on Sereno’s issuance of a resolution on the delayed action on the request of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to transfer the Maute cases outside Mindanao and her alleged unilateral issuance of Administrative Order (AO) 175-2012 that was also inconsistent with the court’s 2006 decisions pertaining to the creation of the Regional Court Administration Office in Region 7 (RCAO-7).
Among the justices who testified before the impeachment panel were SC Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Noel Tijam and Francis Jardeleza and retired SC Associate Justice Arturo Brion.