Impeachment complaint vs. chief justice may result in constitutional crisis – HOR

UNTV

MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will not attend the hearing on the impeachment complaint against her on the 23rd of November.

According to her spokesperson, Atty. Josa Deinla, they will insist on her right to be represented by her legal counsels.

“Right now she is considering the advice of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman that is to not accede to the invitation of the House committee,” said Deinla.

However, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez stood firm that they will not allow the chief justice to be represented by her lawyers.

Alvarez noted that if she has nothing to hide, Sereno should face the hearing and defend herself against the allegations stated in the impeachment complaint.

“She can bring her lawyer. But she must be there. We will not allow that only her lawyers are present. It’s not her lawyers that are being complained of but her,” said Alvarez.

With this, the camp of Sereno is considering to bring the matter to the high tribunal.

“The denial of the rights to cross-examine and the rights to counsel of the chief justice is tantamount to grave abuse of discretion so that will be a possible ground,” said Deinla.

On the other hand, House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali believes there might be a constitutional crisis should the Supreme Court interfere in the impeachment proceedings in Congress.

“The impeachment proceedings are beyond the ambit of judicial review and if they elevate the matter to the supreme court then we are like putting the impeachment proceeding under judicial review and this is something that we feel strongly in Congress that should not be done because the constitution is very clear on the matter that sole power to conduct impeachment cases rest on Congress,” said Umali.

On the scheduled hearing on Wednesday, the justice committee will determine if there is probable cause in the complaint.

The lawmaker claims the impeachment rap might further strengthen with the absence of the chief magistrate during the said hearing.

“You might not attend, but it doesn’t mean that the committee hearing will not push through. We will hear the case, the complaint. We will look into the evidence presented, listen to the complainants, witnesses, and we will decide if we should bring this to the impeachment court or not,” said Alvarez. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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