House panel approves articles of impeachment vs. Sereno

MANILA The House of Representatives' justice committee on Monday approved the committee report along with the articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Thirty-three members voted in favor of Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso's motion to approve the 45 page-committee report detailing the entire impeachment proceeding, as well as the 56-page articles of impeachment that will be filed in the Senate impeachment court.

Only Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte voted against the motion.

The committee report and the articles of impeachment will be submitted to the plenary for another round of approval. Under the rules on impeachment, a vote of one-third, or at least 98 lawmakers, of the total number of House members is needed to send the impeachment complaint to the Senate.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, committee chairman, said 24 out of the 27 allegations of complainant lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno were included in the articles of impeachment.

Gadon's complaint contains four grounds for impeachment including culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust.

"The articles of impeachment will be the foundation in prosecuting this impeachment case before the Senate as an impeachment court," Umali said.

"These six articles (of impeachment) are anchored on strong evidence documentary and testimonial that will stand trial. They are rooted from the findings of psychological and mental disorder of the Chief Justice," he added.

Dr. Geraldine Tria, an expert witness invited by the committee during the course of the impeachment proceeding, said Sereno possessed five out of nine symptoms of emotional and dramatic type of personality.

"In the analysis and diagnosis of our expert witness that she is emotional and dramatic, she has tendency to be manipulative, volatile and uncaring in social relationship. She is prone to impulsivity, sometimes violent behavior that shows little regard for her own safety and needs of others," Umali said.

Among the allegations included in the impeachment articles against Sereno are her failure to completely disclose her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN); commission of tax fraud for failing to truthfully declare her earnings she received as government counsel in the PIATCO case; and acts of grandiosity such as the purchase of a luxury vehicle as well as staying in opulent hotels, among others.

The House justice committee postponed its vote on the impeachment articles last week due to disagreements among members over what allegations should be included.

Not surprised

In a statement, Sereno's spokesperson lawyer Josa Deinla said the vote was how they anticipated the proceedings would be punctuated at the House justice committee.

"The Committee report, as predicted, sets forth matters that are either contrary to evidence presented to the Committee or manifestly biased or one-sided, and that fail to rise to the level of impeachable offenses," Deinla said.

"The CJ (Chief Justice) eagerly awaits the transmittal of the articles to the Senate, for which she continues to thoroughly and fully prepare her defense," she added. (With reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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