4 SC justices to testify vs Sereno: Umali

MANILA -- Four Supreme Court (SC) justices will testify in the impeachment proceeding against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno set on December 11, a House leader revealed on Monday.

In an interview with reporters, House justice committee chairman Reynaldo Umali said Associate Justices Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Teresita de Castro, and retired Associate Justice Arturo Brion had intimated their availability on the December 11 hearing.

Umali said Jardeleza would testify on the allegation that Sereno manipulated the selection process of the Judicial and Bar Council to block his appointment to the high court.

Tijam, on the other hand, will testify about the allegation of foot-dragging of the Supreme Court in ordering the transfer of cases of Maute members from Cagayan de Oro to Metro Manila.

Umali said Brion would testify on the allegation that Sereno "usurped the mandate of the Court en banc by arrogating to herself alone the running of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary, thereby destroying the Supreme Court as a collegial body."

De Castro, who already made an "unprecedented appearance" before the House panel as a member of the Supreme Court last week, will make another appearance next week.

De Castro has testified before the impeachment committee, confirming that Sereno not only altered a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the partylist proclamation in 2013, but also created the Judicial Decentralized Office in Region 7 contrary to resolutions the high court had approved.

De Castro also testified on the merits of the decision she penned that declared unconstitutional the clustering of shortlisted nominees made by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) last year in connection with the vacancies in the Sandiganbayan.

Umali called on SC to promulgate the en banc's decision to allow magistrates and other court officials to attend the impeachment proceedings.

"Yung ibang mga resource persons requested that they be allowed to testify only after the decision is promulgated.I'd like to urge Supreme Court to immediately promulgate (the decision) para malinaw yung way forward on this," Umali said.

Umali also revealed that records of Sereno's Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) are missing too in the Office of the Ombudsman.

"The Office of the Ombudsman will certify that they do not have those records so we are still awaiting their submission of the certification," he said.

Earlier, officials of the University of the Philippines testified that the only existing SALN of Sereno in their files is that for the year 2002 although she taught there from 2001 to 2009.

The committee had asked UP to submit copies of Sereno's SALN to check her claim that she declared properly her earnings of over PHP30 million in the PIATCO (Philippine International Air Terminals Company, Inc.) case and paid the proper taxes for it.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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